Things We Love: SparkTruck

March 18, 2014

Started by a group of students at Stanford's d.School with a Kickstarter campaign and a vision, SparkTruck brings hands-on learning to kids (and teachers) across the country — sparking feats of creativity and imagination wherever they go.

In the summers of 2012 and 2013, we drove across the country, spreading the fun of hands-on learning and encouraging kids to find their inner maker.

Thus begins the journey of a group of students who, for their thesis project, wanted to make the experience of hands-on learning much more accessible to as many younger students as possible.

So they ran a campaign for SparkLab (the original name) on Kickstarter — to raise the money for materials, some 3D printers, a laser cutter, and a truck to drive them around in — with the hope of being able to run summer workshops for local elementary and middle school students throughout the Bay Area during the summer of 2012. The idea sparked imaginations (and donations) from one coast to the other, SparkLab evolved into SparkTruck, and a cross-country maker journey began.

"SparkTruck is a delivery van full of prototyping tools," Jason Chua, SparkTruck co-founder, says. Once a workshop begins, students start brainstorming, experimenting, inventing, and storytelling — thus becoming the driving force in their own hands-on learning experience. With each new project, students learn the power of failing early in their projects — so they can figure out what works and what doesn't.

"The purpose of the truck is changing kids' mindsets from, 'I am the sort of person who will consume knowledge,'" says SparkTruck co-founder Eugene Korsunskiy, "to, 'I am the sort of person who can produce knowledge.'"

Through both their cross-country journeys and the recent opening of the K12 Lab Network at Stanford's d.School, SparkTruck is working to spread the joys and benefits of learning by doing to students, parents, and educators around the country, while working to make that impact as sustainable as possible.

Watch their film, SparkTruck: A Maker Journey, to find out more about SparkTruck's genesis, journey, and mission:

By Lisa Merlini

Tag: Exploring Education

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