NANKIN — Mapleton fifth graders Jacob Bigham and Makayla Williams are just two of many students who have the opportunity to exercise their creativity while creating the technological building blocks they’ll need for the future in Mapleton’s Computer Lab.

In addition to what you’d typically expect out of an elementary computer class, like typing exercises and educational games, the Mapleton Lab gives students access to a 3D printer and a program called Tinkercad.

Tinkercad is an online 3D modeling program designed to e quip the next generation with foundational skills needed to excel as designers, engineers, and other creative thinkers. It’s a free online program that gives students the opportunity to grow their skills in 3D design, electronics, and coding.

“I usually use it to make something that’s really important to me,” Makayla shared. “I designed a picture of my dad and grandpa together. I can format it to be flat and have little divots, but it has all the curves and lines sticking out, but if you turn it a certain way it looks like it’s sticking out to you.”

The computer classes have also used the 3D printer to make shapes, 2-scale food trucks, and other experiments beginning with a whole block and then hollowing it out (digitally), before printing their designs.

“We’re making cubes for geometry,” said Jacob. “I had to find the volume, area, width, height, and length.”

“I think this prepares us for older grades and to get jobs,” Makayla said. “Most jobs have technology and so I think it’s preparing us for that. It’s interesting to see how people use technology to figure things out.”

Makayla would like to get into astronomy when she grows up.

“With all that empty space, who knows what you can encounter,” she said.

Makayla’s parents are Melissa and Wesley Williams. She has a little brother named Wesley, two dogs (a six-year-old black lab, Bella, and a 9-month-old silver lab, Bentley), a cat (Brown, 8 years old), and a two-year-old hermit crab named Winnie. Makayla enjoys playing basketball, volleyball, and softball, and she loves to read. Her favorite subject in school is History/Social Studies.

Jacob would like to be a YouTuber, or anything that involves designing things, perhaps programming. For now, Jacob enjoys playing football, basketball, and track. His parents are Eric and Marissa Bigham. Jacob has a little sister, Olivia, a 7-year-old whippet named Zoom, and a little dog named Bo. Science is his favorite subject.

Both Makayla and Jacob head off to middle school next year.

“I’m queasy about going to middle school next year,” Makayla said.

Jacob agreed. “I don’t like being the youngest grade.”

Despite their nerves, both of them are optimistic about their future, and the rest of their classmates’ futures.

“​​Computer class has definitely gotten us started on preparing our fingers for the future,” Makayla said. “The future is definitely bright for these students. Everyone in this building will succeed.”

Learn more about the strides Mapleton Local School District is taking to prepare our Elementary School students for bright futures.

The Education section is brought to you by Ashland Family YMCA.

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