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XQ

Think back to high school. What if your teacher had told you to throw out the curriculum and run the class yourself?

What would you have done? Would you extend recess by several periods? Would you turn the class into Watching "Real Housewives of Atlanta" 101?

Or would you pull yourselves together, get creative, and make something incredible like, say, a piano powered by celery and old bananas?


If your answer is the latter, you'd probably love Makerspace in Phoenix.

These students are defying expectations and turning their scientific ideas into reality.

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, October 26, 2017

"Makerspace is a place for students to make," says Amber Henry, a Makerspace teacher and coordinator. "It's for them to do what they're passionate about. They get to take an idea that's in their head and make it a physical reality."

Students decide what they want to make and are guided by experts into making it real.

Everything from computer games to rudimentary electronics to art projects to a piano powered by celery and bananas is brought to life by the students of Makerspace, and the lessons are self-evident.

All photos via XQ Super School Project.

"When we tell students that there's math in this room, and there's science in this room, and there's English in this room, they see the collaboration," Henry says. "They see the connection."

More than just a lawless play-space, Makerspace lets students take control of their own learning in a really unique way.

Everyone struggles occasionally with the traditional class structure, and sometimes, reading textbooks and staring at PowerPoint presentations isn't the best way to learn.

"A lot of kids tend to think that high school is boring," says Hayden Araza, a Makerspace student, "because they're not given the opportunity to say what they want to do. ... We're gonna make our own rubric. We don't need one of yours."

That shift in thinking is particularly important for Phoenix's large population of low-income and minority students, who often fall behind in a traditional education system that's stacked against them.

Students in Phoenix are "often from low-income backgrounds, and they're often minorities," says Pearl Chang Esau of Expect More Arizona.

"These kids can change the world. The question is whether we are gonna support them and invest in them and give them the teachers and resources that they need to do that."

As more kids enter this existing educational system, it's going to take creative ideas like Makerspace to give them a chance.

With the job market more competitive than ever, kids need every possible chance to get a leg up. One of the best ways to do that is to give them a space where they can discover their own passions for science — and put real-life skills to use.

The "normal" high school classroom isn't always the most engaging or beneficial place for young minds.

Getting kids excited about learning is about giving them control, letting them try and fail, so that later on, they can succeed. Or, as these minds see it, improving education is about challenging what we've come to accept as standard.

Learn more at XQSuperSchool.org.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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