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Learning Factory Summer Camp & Writing and Robotics

A multi-colored flying fish soars in the window of an inventive workshop within the UNCG Teachers Resource Center in the School of Education building. You have arrived at the SELF Design Studio makerspace, where you are likely to be greeted by Matt Fisher, the friendly, innovative assistant director of this magical place. Here transformational learning occurs throughout the school year and at its summer camps.

Creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving are the focus of UNCG’s Learning Factory Summer Camp. During the one-week makerspace experience, classroom teachers lead student campers as they engage in robotics, circuitry, engineering, digital storytelling, green screen, and computer science activities. Previous summer camp projects included a student dramatization of “The Three Pigs,” using green screen techniques to provide different digital backdrops during the filmed performance. Merging art with technology, students collaborated to create masks and stage props out of cardboard, paper, and paints.

The SELF Design Studio also hosts Writing and Robotics, an afternoon companion program to the UNCG School of Education’s Young Writers Camp. Rising 3rd – 12th grade campers design and construct working robots inspired by their original writing. Students primarily use the Hummingbird Robotics Kit to create their robot masterpieces and are featured in a video documenting their writing and process. In the makerspace, character robots come to life, including Trex the dinosaur, whose distance sensor stimulates roaring and arm movement; Cookie-bot, whose arm waves a spatula; and Tweets the poodle, whose tongue and tail move when you pet the sensor beside his nose.

The SELF (Student and Educator Learning Factory) Design Studio commemorates the creative spirit of life-long learner Luther Winborne Self ’97 PhD. After his death in 1997, Luther’s wife, Sara, and son, Smith, continued his legacy with several gifts to the School of Education, including The Sara Smith Self Foundation School of Education Program Fund. This gift played a critical role in the School of Education receiving a federal Teacher Quality Partnership grant for Transforming Teaching Through Technology in 2014. The grant and Self family support the makerspace and its summer camps. The Self Foundation SOE Program Fund gift was made in honor of Smith Self and his daughter, Rebekah.

UNCG was the first public university in North Carolina to house a makerspace. The Sara Smith Self Foundation School of Education Program Fund has been instrumental in UNCG’s emergence as a leader in STEM education and community connections. Whether designing school year curricular integration or an innovative summer camp, the SELF Design Studio provides students with creative opportunities for growth.

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Story by Zoe Dillard, Donor Relations


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P. Kevin Williamson

Associate Vice Chancellor