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A Maker Space That Helps Kids Create During Long Hospital Stays

For students, the benefit of tinkering with tools and developing hands-on creative projects is that they get concrete lessons in what can otherwise feel like remote theoretical topics, especially in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). While maker-based approaches are no longer new inside educational settings, an unexpected maker space is now being piloted at a children’s hospital, where patients can routinely experience long hospital stays, often in isolation.

“Many patients who have chronic illnesses are not allowed to leave their room, due to safety reasons and cross-contamination issues,” said Gokul Krishnan. “That’s why we bring the mobile maker space into the patient’s room.” He’s a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education who created the mobile maker space project to help patients learn STEM skills. He’s testing the project at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

The maker space is a rolling metal cart, filled with the equipment and materials needed for small-scale engineering projects. Cubbyholes full of wires and circuit boards are lined by lights that can cycle through the rainbow. A sleek 3-D printer is the heart of the cart, which is topped by a tablet computer on a swivel arm. The tablet is there for communicating with Krishnan and fellow patients.


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