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Our History

A big impetus for the Maker Education Project was SMU’s acquisition of the SparkTruck project, a mobile makerspace designed to engage educators and kids, from the K12 Lab Network at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (also known as the

Check out a short movie about the road trip from Stanford to SMU!

SparkTruck got started in 2012 when a group of Stanford graduate students realized that many K–12 schools didn’t have the resources to teach design thinking and Maker-Based Instruction. The students decided that they would try to fill that gap with a makerspace on wheels. They crowdfunded their startup costs and hit the road, visiting Bay Area middle schools with their laser cutter, 3-D printer, and a mission to bring their passion for making and design to kids. The positive response led them to reach further, crossing the country in the summer of 2012 and meeting 2,700 students in 33 states.

SparkTruck got attention from national media outlets like TechCrunch, WiredFast Company, and Make: magazine. It won awards. It inspired other mobile makerspaces. Most important, it inspired thousands of students and teachers to explore, build their skills, and challenge themselves to build new things and solve old problems.

In 2014, Katie Krummeck, now the director of the SMU Maker Education Project, took the wheel of Stanford’s SparkTruck initiative, steering it toward offering greater professional development for educators. Katie came to SMU in 2015, and a year later, the truck followed her to Dallas, funded by a generous gift from a Dallas-based family.

Soon after the truck’s arrival at its new home, SMU students evaluated its design and used their design and maker skills to reconfigure its interior to meet educators’ and kids’ needs. Now the MakerTruck is ready to hit the road once again.

With a mobile makerspace that already has a nationally recognized story, the SMU Maker Education Project is positioned to be a prominent voice in the conversation about Maker-Based Instruction. As more schools add Maker-Based Instruction to their curricula, the SMU Maker Education Project can guide them through it and offer a pedagogical framework, even before the school is ready to outfit its own makerspace with high-tech tools.

The SMU MakerTruck extends the reach of SMU’s Deason Innovation Gym (the DIG) and the Design and Innovation Programs at the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education. It also leverages some of the greatest – and friendliest – resources SMU has to offer the community: its students. The MakerTruck offers an innovative way for undergraduate and graduate students in the Simmons School of Education and Lyle School of Engineering to bring their expertise and enthusiasm to K–12 schools. This way, SMU can help develop a whole generation of maker educators in Dallas and beyond.

Though SMU has adopted this project and rebranded the truck, the SparkTruck website will stay up, with its blog history and resources. We won’t be adding new content to it, however.

But you can keep up with the SMU MakerTruck’s travels here and on Twitter: @MakerEdSMU. Follow us!

Further reading:

Article from Stanford’s, “SparkTruck Hits the Road.” (June 20, 2017)

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