Highmeadow Maker Faire immerses kids in STEAM projects, creation

The first thing a visitor would likely have noticed about Saturday’s Maker Faire at Highmeadow Common Campus in Farmington Hills was the noise:

The morning event rang with the sounds of children creating – welding, 3-D printing, jewelry making, illustrating, sewing, making stop-motion animations, and more – at stations inside and outside the school building on Highmeadow Road, east of Orchard Lake and north of 12 Mile. Principal Dyanne Sanders said the event, in its second year, fits well with Highmeadow’s mission as a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) school.

“We’re trying to create children who are builders,” she said. “We’re trying to give them exposure to creating and building things.”

That includes using new technologies, like the stop-motion animation station. During the school year, students learn how to create a story from beginning to middle to end. An animated movie, Sanders said, gives them an opportunity to show how they’ve mastered those lessons.

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With creation going on all around the Highmeadow gymnasium, things got a little messy.

The Maker Faire has grown from seven stations last year to 19. A keynote speaker, speed painter Martina Hahn, was also added to the mix. She created a portrait of Albert Einstein in just six minutes.

Next year, Sanders said, she hopes to expand the event footprint, with a glassblower and blacksmith. She finds people to run stations through networking, but also pays some creators to attend. The event is funded through the school’s “STEAM Fun Run” at the beginning of the year, the generosity of the school community, and grant writing.

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Cartoonist Duane Abel helped students create during the Highmeadow Common Campus Maker Faire.

Sanders hopes the model will expand; several principals and teachers from other schools attended Saturday’s event. Also, when Highmeadow moves in 2017 to the much larger Dunckel Middle School, the Maker Fair may open up to all district schools.

“I think that’s how it’s going to spread,” she said.

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Parents and students got involved in making bird houses during the Highmeadow Maker Faire.

Maker Faire was run almost entirely by school staff. Two parents got involved this year, but only because of their children.

“We had two students who wanted to run a station,” Sanders said. “So the parents were assistants for the kids.”