Maker Movement Part 4: How Sam Monson got the ball rolling here as a 7th grader
When Sam Monson was reading Make Magazine in the 7th grade, he got so excited about the possibility of having a community-based Maker Space that he decided to take action. A Maker Space is a place where kids can come together and design and build projects using electronics wood, metal, computers and robotics.
He researched what it would take to create a Maker Space and produced a video to introduce his ideas, complete with spreadsheets of estimated costs. His work caught the attention of community volunteer Sara Rolfs, who suggested to city officials Allison Williams and Steve King that they should hear Monson’s proposal.
Then, Wenatchee High School student Ethan Toth and his friends took on the herculean task of putting on a Mini Maker Faire in October of 2015. Meanwhile, the North Central Regional Library received funding to develop a mobile Maker Space that is now in use throughout the area. The Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center developed a Maker Space in the basement of their facility. The Wenatchee School District is considering ways to get more hands-on learning in local schools.
All of this activity can be traced back in some fashion to Monson’s home-made video and his logical, thoughtful proposal to the city. “It definitely surprised me how they (city officials) responded,” Monson told me recently. He noted that hands-on learning opportunities are multiplying quickly. Whereas the community had only a few 3D printers a few years ago, now there are at least a few dozen.
Monson is a 9th grader now, taking some classes independently and some at Wenatchee High School. His love of computers has grown. “I’ve always been more of a programmer and virtually designer,” said Monson. He says he’s not great at more traditional art but finds great satisfaction in creating things on the computer. What really thrills him is developing things that are functional and also beautiful as well. Clean designs that are easy for users to navigate are important to him.
He still sees a need for a first-rate Maker Space in the valley — a place with fast internet connections, 3D printers, perhaps a CNC machine (computer numerical control), a laser cutter as well as some other equipment for woodworking, metalworking and the like. All of his graphic design and other computing work have tapped out his home network so today he’s working on upgrading his systems.
Monson thinks it is rather amazing that his video had such an impact. He isn’t a big fan of small communities, he said, but Wenatchee is starting to grow on him. “I like the community,” he said. ” I like how it’s growing.”
Monson is living proof that anyone with passion and initiative can make a difference in our communities. He started something quite special in this valley.