Rekindling the Spark: It Begins with the MLK Boys Academy

I am currently reading a book about telling stories, so I’m doing a little experiment with my blog posts. Hopefully, they will be a bit more engaging, or perhaps I’ll just learn a bit more about effective communication. I do use AI to help get things started and learn ways of stating things I haven’t thought of. However, I’ve done enough editing of the generated text to call this my own.

Unless otherwise noted, all photos are credited to Sophia Timba

Recently, I was standing in the hallway of the SUNY Brockport chemistry building, watching a procession of thirty some students and a few of their teachers. They were taking part in the MLK Boys Academy, a program for inner-city students from Rochester to acquire life skills and explore various aspects of social and professional development.

My colleague, Carly, and I were tasked with hosting a one-hour workshop for the Academy, aiming to ignite their curiosity and passion for science through hands-on experiences. Since I recently started a Makerspace, “It Begins in Brockport” (IBiB), I wanted to incorporate makerspace resources. One of our recent acquisitions, a Maker Cart from TeacherGeek, provided all the materials we needed for this endeavor.

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Setting sail

A quick update: I was interviewed by the local news (ABC channel 13) about a recent makerspace event where we had kids and their parents build some boats to try in the Erie Canal. Here’s the link to the story, so please check it out. I’ll edit this post later with the “rest of the story”. (Short answer, yes, all the boats did float – eventually – and two of them did make it across the canal.

IBiB: Building boats and making waves

If you are a regular reader, you know that I recently started a makerspace in Brockport called It Begins in Brockport (IBiB). We are only a month old and have come a long way in that short time. We’ve equipped our space – one of the studios at the Hart Art Gallery – with 3D printers (both filament and resin), an electronics workbench and a laser cutter. There’s also a CNC mill that is still a work in progress and we recently received a grant for a high-end vinyl cutter. On Friday, we received something truly special.

That’s a makercart (along with Kaitlyn and Mark) from TeacherGeek, a local company that makes STEM educational activities. The cart – valued at $8000 comes with about 15000 bits and pieces (gears, rods, frame, motors, connectors, switches, screws, and more) that can be used to engage students in well over 30 engineering activities.

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It Begins in Brockport

It’s that time of the year when my periodic table reminds me that I am one year older. Happy indium birthday to me:

What’s really exciting, though, is that it is not just my birthday, but also the first day of a very new adventure. I am officially starting a makerspace in Brockport, and signed a lease on a studio to pilot the makerspace starting today.

The makerspace is called, It Begins in Brockport because, well, this is where it begins. Ironically, 2023 is the 200th anniversary of when the Erie Canal ended in Brockport. It’s a theme that will come up again later in the year.

The makerspace is a joint effort between SUNY Brockport and a non-profit I am establishing called Brockport Original Builds. Our mission is to empower community innovation and learning through accessible digital fabrication. If we are successful (and I believe we will be) one day Brockport will be seen as a beacon of learning, collaboration, and innovation.

It’s day one, and we have a lot of work ahead of us. If you are in the Brockport area and are interested in learning more, you should definitely stop by the Hart Gallery (27 Market Street) on Friday May 5th from 6-8. IBiB is taking up residence in the pottery studio and we’ll be participating in the gallery’s First Friday open houses. You can also check out, which is pretty bare bones at the moment, but will be our main online presence. You can expect updates here as well.

Stay tuned for many more exciting updates – but I have to finish grading lab reports and exams first.