Programming includes coding classes, electronic invention tools, engineering with computer chips and more
CONWAY—The Conductor today announced a new slate of high-tech offerings that are designed to focus on the five elements of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education. The new offerings will create opportunities for students and the community to learn the principles of coding, engineering, empathy-driven design and more. The new lineup of offerings will serve students and community members, from pre-K to adults.
“The Conductor team has developed an exciting array of offerings that will teach coding, circuitry, engineering, prototyping and design in a digestible, hands-on format,” said Kim Lane, Executive Director of the Conductor. “These advanced, high-tech offerings create a plethora of new learning opportunities for the community, and will teach a skill set that is increasingly in demand in the 21st century job market.”
In addition to the STEAM programming being offered in the Makerspace, the Conductor has identified a number of “outbound” offerings that the team can bring to schools and venues around the region.
“Our educators have worked diligently to develop a curriculum that provokes innovation and empowers the community,” said Grace Rains, the Conductor’s Director of Operations. “With our new outbound programming, we can bring this dynamic education directly to people in all the areas we serve.”
Some of the outbound offerings include coding with the Scratch coding program, color coding with Ozobots, learning electronic invention (and connecting everyday objects to computer programs) with the Makey Makey, learning about circuitry with Squishy Circuits and Paper Circuits, making computer chips through a nano-stamping project, learning the engineering process through a “cardboard creation” activity, designing with Strawbees, and jewelry making with the Cricut machine.
“In a rapidly changing world, it is critical for people to not just be consumers of their world, but to develop their skills through the design and engineering process in order to be producers and problem-solvers. STEAM education inspires people to wonder, ask questions and innovate by developing their engineering and design skills through prototyping and inventing,” said Conductor Educator Anita Reynolds.
“People who develop a maker mindset will be better equipped for future challenges. The skills acquired through making allow them to think analytically and to solve real world problems in innovative and creative ways. It is so exciting to have an organization like the Conductor that values the development of these skills and offers educational experiences that help develop the maker mindset throughout central Arkansas,” said Conductor Educator Sharon Cone.
Cone and Reynolds have already taken the outbound offerings to the Girl Scouts Annual Conference, to pre-K students at Share the Love Kids Club in Conway and more.
“I’m excited about our new outbound offerings because they give us an opportunity to reach people who otherwise would not be exposed to making,” said Jason Huselton, the Conductor’s Master Maker. “These offerings give people a creative outlet and build a sense of accomplishment and empowerment.”
This fall, the Conductor will also be hosting creative and empathy-driven community events that invite large groups or teams of people to participate in the hands-on activities.
In September, the Conductor is hosting a Catamaran Can Challenge. In the challenge, community members will be invited to bring in canned goods, and will design, build, and test the stability of a catamaran built with recycled materials. The canned goods will be donated following the event.
In October, the community is invited to use creativity and engineering skills to design and build a working pinball machine from cardboard. Participants will also learn to use cardboard tools and techniques for transforming ordinary cardboard into creative designs.
In December, the Conductor is hosting “Conductor Gives Back,” which invites others to join the Conductor in giving back to the community. At the event, participants will bring in plastic grocery bags, and will learn to weave them into mats; the mats will be donated to local organizations that serve the homeless community. The weaving looms for the mats will be made in UCA’s Makerspace, and will be donated to area elementary schools for future education projects following the event.
All of the community events will be held in McCastlain Hall at the University of Central Arkansas on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
All of the Conductor’s outbound offerings, STEAM classes and events will be offered at no cost. Spots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. To view the Conductor’s offerings, visit arconductor.org/offerings. To view the Conductor’s upcoming events, visit arconductor.org/calendar.
About the Conductor
The Conductor, a public-private partnership with the University of Central Arkansas and Startup Junkie Consulting, drives innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development in central Arkansas through high-impact programming, one-on-one consulting, commercialization support, talent development and collaboration.