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By Erin Berg

Where in Harley can you design and build a new picnic table, test and create a new irrigation system, attend Middle School science classes, attend Upper School morning meeting, brainstorm and plan a civic community project or find a meditation class or Hospice course in session? The Commons! …And this list is only the start of all of the various courses and activities that occur in this unique building here at Harley. I recently sat down with Maker Educator Kima Enerson to learn more.

You might be wondering, what is a Maker Educator? Her work involves helping students develop 21st-century learning skills such as collaboration, creativity and the elements of STEM. Kima’s background ranges from using power tools, to working with robotics, to utilizing and teaching design thinking, as well as experience with project-based learning. She joins us from Rochester Institute of Technology, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts in Metals and Design Jewelry and has been a full-time adjunct professor in the Jewelry Design and Metals Department and the Foundations Department in the School of Design. There she taught a wide range of courses from 3D Design to Computer Aided Jewelry Design (CAD for Jewelry) to traditional Metalworking classes. In addition to teaching undergraduates, Kima also spent her summers working for Nazareth College’s Summer Science Camp for students in grades 4-9.

As you can see from that list of qualifications, she loves to get her hands dirty with tools, workshop materials and facilitating hands-on learning! This is why she is excited about teaching courses across all levels of school (N-Upper School).

Her enthusiasm for problem solving and working with people is a great fit here at Harley. Kima collaborates with Jeanne Weber—our Lower School Technology teacher—to get younger kids into the Maker Space and she collaborates with Carli Rivers and Anneka Nordmark in their Middle School sciences classes. You may have seen the moving skeletal hand that Ms. Rivers’ students created this past year—just one of the many projects created in our Maker Space.

In the Upper School, Kima is teaching a robotics class each trimester, as well as the Design and Innovation course—an elective. Design and Innovation is a unique course for Upper School students that centers on project-based learning. Students identify challenges and work on possible solutions. This might mean students recognize, for example, a lack of communal seating in the school. Together, they will figure out the best designs for their purpose and then implement those designs by building seating. The goal is to identify authentic STEM and Maker projects within our learning community.

I asked Kima what she is excited about this year, which turned out to be a tough question to answer in one or two sentences. She’s excited about a lot of potential new projects. For one thing, she wants to offer tours of the Maker Space to teachers, as well as organize some training sessions for faculty who want to learn how to use the power tools. Such activities, Kima hopes, will make the space more usable and familiar to faculty, which opens up our possibilities for design-based projects across disciplines.

The courses she will teach and her collaborative work will feature project-based learning; collaborating with teachers on such projects; facilitating students’ hands-on learning, and maintaining the workshop. With her help, Harley hopes to raise students through all divisions to feel comfortable with our workshop and Maker Space; to know when and how to use the correct tools to work together and design solutions to problems; and to enjoy getting their hands dirty (figuratively and literally) while learning and helping the community.