FABSpotlight: Why This Summer Camp Gets an “A”!

The following blog post is by Peggy Healy Stearns, Lead Software Designer, Fab@School Maker Studio.

This summer camp takes every letter in STEAM seriously!

Located in Palm Beach County, Florida, the Lighthouse ArtCenter Full STEAM Ahead Summer Art Camp helps kids explore science, technology, engineering, and math. And shines a big spotlight on that oft elusive “A”!

Students in this unique summer camp explore traditional studio arts in the ArtCenter School, while the Gallery houses an exhibit of 100 original paintings and books from bestselling and Caldecott Award Winning children’s authors and illustrators. Interactive exhibits with movable gears and vinyl and felt boards for impromptu design offer further inspiration.

The center of activity is a new computer lab and maker space equipped with 17 computer stations, Fab@School Maker Studio software, and two Silhouette CAMEO 3 fabricators, all funded by the S. Kent Rockwell Foundation. The entire interactive gallery experience was the brainchild of curator Janeen Mason, herself an award-winning children’s author and illustrator.

In nine one-week camps, kids 5-12 organized by age rotate through four sessions per day. Three sessions are devoted to studio arts. During the fourth, they explore digital design and fabrication in the new computer lab.

Fernando Porras, an internationally acclaimed artist and an Adobe Illustrator aficionado, guides and inspires students on this creative adventure. After a brief introduction, kids plunge into Fab@School Maker Studio, first creating Ready Made files like butterfly and dolphin pop-ups, masks, cars, and houses.

Kids move quickly from starter projects to original designs, using FabMaker Studio tools to resize, reshape, weld, and cut holes. Soon even 6-year-olds are exploring more sophisticated features like Edit Points, morphing simple shapes into real and fantastical creatures.

The highlight of the summer camp is a collaborative work of art. Mr. Porras challenged campers to design real or imaginary creatures, plants, and objects to create habitats and communities. Before long, the display exploded with imagination as ocean, jungle, mountain, city, farm, space and arctic tundra took shape.

Kids collaborated and inspired each other to create dinosaurs and dragons, coral and jellyfish, bridges and buildings, hot air balloons, space shuttles, cable cars, and circus trains.

2D designs were created with welded shapes or drawn freehand with line tools. 3D designs were created with flat patterns folded into solids or with individual parts that fit together, like a dragon with wings that flap and legs that move.

At the end of the day, some kids aren’t ready to leave. They invite parents to see their creations and beg to sign up for another week. Before long, we had a waiting list for an adult class.

Kids are learning when they think they’re playing. Designing creatures and habitats and structures involves research and math and engineering and science. And art. Art that dazzles and thrills and amazes children and adults.

That’s why this summer camp gets a big “A”!

For more information about the Lighthouse ArtCenter, go to www.lighthousearts.org.

Is your classroom a FabClassroom? We would love to highlight your school! To be featured in an upcoming post, send an email to andrea@reynoldstlc.org. You can also tweet your photos with the hashtag #FabMakerStudio! For more posts featuring Fab@School Maker Studio, click here.