Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College
Spend a late Monday afternoon with the Carson Makers Inventing Tomorrow Club in the Construction Shop at Western Nevada College and you’ll be reassured that children are still using their imaginations and creativity.
WNC provides the Carson STEM club access to the shop and its 20-plus members learn about safely using the tools to work on their own inventions and products.
“Carson Makers Inventing Tomorrow STEM club is an opportunity for kids, both male and female, to explore and bring their creativity to life in a safe and promoting environment,” said WNC Construction Instructor Nigel Harrison. “The space has been termed as the ‘WNC Generator.’ These kids absolutely love the freedom to create and utilize the tools the shop offers.”
Club members take ownership of their projects and have the freedom to build what they want. Coaches provide the students with direction and help.
Spenser Bray is using his own plans to build a remote control airplane and intends to build a second one so he can fly them in varying wind conditions.
“I joined when the LEGO-Robotics Club was canceled,” Bray said. “It’s fun building all of my plans and making whatever I want.”
Halen Harrison and Bennett Card aren’t looking for a quick turnaround in their project. They are ambitiously working on constructing a canoe.
Kellen Johnston and Beckham Harrison are creating an adjustable bike ramp so they can vary the height and length of their bicycle jumps.
And Amelia Graul, who joined CMIT as a CMS eighth-grader and now is a Carson High School sophomore, has remained with the club to work on a skill to further her own business. That’s right, Graul has her own business — Snail Nail Jewelry.
“I started out making cross necklaces and I wanted to learn more about soldering to better my business,” she said.
Three of Harrison’s children participate in the club, enabling him to spend quality time with them while they work on their projects. Club coaches Josh Billings, Erik Bertrand and Jarrod Lopiccolo also have children in the club.
“Most of the credit goes to my peer coaches Josh Billings, Jarrod Lopiccolo, Morgan Simpson and Erik Bertrand,” Harrison said. “As coaches we all bring a unique skill set, and between us we can provide endless vision and results to our Makers.”
Harrison, an approved OSHA outreach trainer, provided club members with proper ways to safely handle and use the shop’s tools at the beginning of fall semester before they ever entered the workshop.
“These kids will benefit from this hands-on experience their entire lives,” he said. “They learn to not be afraid of power tools, to set goals and watch them come to life, help and contribute to other students’ projects, learn to take and accept criticism to make their projects better. And mostly, they participate in a clean and positive after-school activity while being mentored by local experts.”
Other projects the children are working on are rebuilding computers, using old computers to create art, constructing cutting boards, creating a container holding instant quicksand and designing LED shoes. In the past, club members have constructed a cardboard soda machine, drones and kites.
“LEGOs and Robotics were kind of getting old for the kids and they wanted something more,” said Billings, a dean at Carson Middle School. “Now if they get bored, they can move on to another project.”
The club will continue to meet in the Construction Shop at WNC into May. By then, the next great toy might be invented or they just might be inspired to enter Northern Nevada’s budding construction industry.
For more information about WNC’s Construction programs, contact Nigel Harrison at 775-445-4412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about WNC’s Career and Technical Education programs, including Construction, by going to www.wnc.edu/cte/.