Science & Math
Deep Time to the Anthropocene
Making new projects from plastic waste
Sustainable Food Production
Making owl boxes to control pests at Loy Farm
Personalizing paper masks to reflect professional identity
Current Issues in Environmental Studies
Making rocket stoves
Art through a Mathematical Lens
3D printing, art, and math
Deep Time to the Anthropocene | HNR2340
Instructor: Amanda Chunco
My goal was to have students both learn more about plastic waste and think about the creative solutions that will be required to solve plastic pollution. This course is centered on sustainability and the idea that solutions to the big environmental problems that we face as a society will require interdisciplinary solutions. Going to the Maker Hub gave us a workable example of a process that creates waste (3D printing) and let us work collaboratively to re-use that waste to create a new, functional product. I hoped that students would see the connections between art and design and STEM and engage in thinking creatively about how to collaboratively work towards solving local environmental issues.
Students were working to create something out of the plastic waste from the 3D printers. The scope of their project was entirely determined by the group – their object could be anything they wanted as long as it used plastic waste. The goal was just to re-use something that was considered trash and make it into something useful or meaningful. Students created bracelets, rings, bowls, decorative plaques, and more.
We used a blender to grind up plastic into pellets. A heat press, iron, and heat gun to melt the pellets and press them into flat sheets. Some groups used the band saw and laser engraver to cut their sheets into shapes.
Scraps of 3D printed material (PLA plastic), high-temperature Teflon sheets
Why the Hub?
I had several reasons to choose the Maker Hub.
- I wanted students to see the importance of art and design in STEM disciplines.
- I wanted students to have a chance to think creatively about repurposing a ‘waste’ product.
- I wanted students to learn about the technologies available at the Maker Hub and to have a chance to do some hands-on projects with those tools as we talked in class about the role of technology as both the cause and the solution, of environmental problems.
This was one of the best activities I’ve done in my 10 years of teaching at Elon! Students had a great time making their projects and I thought they came up with some really creative things. Some students used Maker Hub resources in completing their final research project for the class. And, we had wonderful discussions about the design process, plastic pollution, and solving environmental issues that all stemmed from the time we spent in the Maker Hub. I will definitely be doing other projects with students at the Maker Hub in the future.
For faculty considering this, I would suggest having some clear learning goals in mind going into the activity, but being flexible and open to changing things up as the projects progress. I know my class needed more time than I initially planned, and I’m glad we just added an extra class at the Hub rather than trying to stay on a strict schedule. Also, Dan is a super valuable resource – he really helped me think about how to use the Hub to best meet my learning objectives.
Sustainable Food Production | ENS3110
Instructor: Jacob Rutz
Building the owl boxes tied into our section on integrated pest management, a sustainability-minded approach to dealing with critters on the farm. The project itself was a physical manifestation of one technique, which is a form of biological management encouraging beneficial predators on the farm. By building a habitat for eastern screech owls, the class is helping minimize mammal predation on farm crops.
The goal for the class’s learning outcomes was to both reinforce pest management practices techniques as well as expose them to utilizing woodworking tools to build confidence and autonomy using tangible tools. Agricultural work is still largely a hands-on occupation and anytime we can physically do something to engage with the natural world in my classes, I’m going to use that opportunity.
The students were building an Audobon Society-designed eastern screech owl box house. The house will provide shelter for nesting birds in and around Loy Farm.
Why the Hub?
The Maker Hub provided an ideal space for students to utilize a wide variety of woodworking tools with thoughtful training and oversight. The Hub is a very welcoming, clean, and safe space that helps new makers jump right in with minimal barriers to entry so that we can start working on our projects as soon as possible, while still utilizing best practices.
The project was a success! We built three boxes that will be mounted across Loy Farm and hopefully have owl inhabitants in the near future. The students enjoyed this lab as a shake-up to our usual labs and as a way to feel really accomplished in a three-hour period.
Advice to other faculty would be to first practice the project yourself as space and movement around the floor can lead to unforeseen bottlenecks or challenges. Having a clear, visual plan (thanks Audubon Society) for student projects really improves the time spent in the space.
We used a miter saw, track saw, drill press, and hand drills. Students were required to complete the Maker Hub’s saws training on their own time before the class session. With the training out of the way, we were able to spend the lab session building the boxes.
Planks of cedar, hinges, outdoor screws
Healthcare Relationships | NRS2000A
Instructor: Tiffany Morris
First-year students in the School of Health Sciences created a personalized paper mask to reflect their professional identity. Students were encouraged to work on their masks on their own time and at work nights, hosted at the Maker Hub. Professor Morris brought her nursing students to the Maker Hub during class so they had focused time to work. Students painted, cut out stickers on the vinyl cutter, cut out symbols on the laser engraver, and more. Learn more about this initiative on Today @ Elon.
Current Issues in Environmental Studies | ENS101
Instructor: Jacob Rutz
The paragraph below was the little primer I wrote for them: How we cook says a lot about our socioeconomic status, the country we live in, the natural resources available to us, and predict our health outcomes. In this independent project, you will be exploring the intersection of many of these topics through the lens of the stove itself, focusing on a developing world technology, rocket stoves. This project is a design-build project, meaning you are in charge of making the design and building your rocket stove; there are no set instructions as in typical labs. Instead, you will learn alongside your classmates design principles while actively implementing them into your own design.
A rudimentary “rocket stove” – a small, wood-powered stove built from recycled materials and some basic insulation – that was able to boil a pot of water using nothing but fallen twigs and sticks (and a lighter and a bit of paper to get it going).
Dremel, power drills and various bits, tin snips, pliers, files, and of course good safety equipment.
Recycled cans from Elon Dining (the majority of the build), high-heat resistant tape, and an insulation material (perlite, sand, gravel, or air)
Why the Hub?
There really was no other way for the students to build these stoves without the Hub! It was an essential tool for this project and a safe and exciting one at that.
Definitely a success in terms of student engagement, doing something outside their comfort zone, and a little unique. I love hands-on projects, and I know this one was a challenge for my students in terms of both doing the work and integrating the concepts learned in lecture. This was the first time I did this, I’d like to do it again and do more to ensure the in-class component is better applied to the design process.
Art through a Mathematical Lens | COR 435
Instructor: Crista Arangala
In the first few days of the term, students focused on dimensionality and the concept of infinity. This project allowed them to create a way of displaying their understanding.
Students learned about 2 artists, MC Escher and Yayoi Kusama, and read a book entitled Flatland by E. Abbott. Flatland is a 2D world and the main character (Mr. Square) describes his discovery of multiple dimensions. For this project students had to create an art piece (with description) depicting Mr. Squares discovery through Escher or Kusama’s artistic lens.
3D printers and other tools based on the student’s piece.
Some made mirror boxes, some painted their 3D prints.
Why the Hub?
I feel like exposure to the Makerspace, in general, is important. I believe each student has a creative side that may just need to be inspired. Many students had never been to the Maker Hub (and they were all juniors and seniors) and they were very excited to use the tools – particularly the 3D printer.
Students really enjoyed this project and many of them had never been to the Maker Hub. The project really tapped into their creative spirit and nicely tied to our in-class discussions. Absolutely, would use the makerspace for more projects in the future.