Crossland Construction, KissTECH, the Economic Development Corporation and K-State Research & Extension hosted a Makers Camp for Columbus middle school students December 18-20. Twenty students participated. They were able to learn about and get hands-on experience with 3D printing, crochet, computer circuitry and coding, drones, graphic design, and laser engraving. In addition, they had the opportunity to visit two local businesses, Team Threads and Vital Signs, that utilize some of these technologies in their daily work.

KissTECH owner and Economic Development Corporation Board Member Thomas Niegisch presented the session on computer circuitry and coding. In doing so, he utilized Arduino Kits which were purchased for the Economic Development Corporation with funds provided by longtime partner, NetWork Kansas. As shown in the photo above, the Arduino Kits allowed students to get hands-on experience building projects using computers and electronics. We thank NetWork Kansas for their generosity and are happy to have the Arduino Kits for ongoing use.

Another area industry, DEPCO Enterprises, LLC of Frontenac, provided equipment for students to complete a laser engraving project. Since 1982, DEPCO (Dependable Education Products Company) has successfully furnished thousands of schools, community centers, and organizations all over North America with curriculum, software, and equipment designed to suit their individual learning needs. DEPCO’s approach to educating today’s youth stands to revolutionize the education environment by offering engaging curricula that takes the intimidation and confusion out of the learning for both students and instructors. Students at the Columbus Makers Camp each programmed a design and laser engraved a water bottle to take home.

Instructors for the camp included: Matt Ross, CUHS Technology & Engineering Instructor; Jenny Thornton, Homemaker & Mother; Katrina Elliott, K-State Extension Agent; Thomas Niegisch, KissTECH Business Owner; Haleigh Sills, Crossland Marketing; and Kyle Grimes, Crossland Building Information Modeling Specialist.

Students enjoyed the Makers Camp experience with several indicating that they would like the camp to be longer than three days. They also suggested a number of other topics that they would like to see at future events including photography, sewing, and woodworking.

We expect this will be the first of many Makers Camps and hope that it eventually leads to the establishment of a Makerspace in the county.  A Makerspace is a physical location where people can gather to create, invent, and learn. Makerspaces typically have 3D printers, software, electronics, craft and hardware supplies and tools, and more. We see a Makerspace as a natural extension of our efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in the county.