Spark Truck: Crafts On WheelsJuly 30, 2012 @ 4:01 pm (Updated: 4:39 pm - 7/30/12 )
By Rachel Belle
When I was a kid, my dad had a little workshop in the garage where the hammers, screwdrivers, saws and safety glasses were proudly displayed. I would do crafts; bending pipe cleaners and squirting hot glue, sewing bits of fabric together to make dresses for wooden spoon dolls. But today, a lot of kids stick with video games and iPads, and a lot of dads are in the computer room rather than the garage. This was sad news to a group of recent Stanford design grads, so they came up with Spark Truck, basically my dad's garage workshop on wheels.
"It's a truck full of high tech and low tech tools that we're taking from school to school and camp to camp. We're trying to bring hands-on workshops and hands-on learning back to kids," says Spark Truck co-founder Jason Chua.
They're driving around the country, stopping at schools, camps, museums, zoos and libraries, trying to inspire creativity.
"We spent a lot of time in classrooms talking to teachers and students. We saw that people are bored in the classroom, whether it's teachers or students, because there's so much standardization. It's hard to be interested in what you're learning if everyone learns differently, but everyone [is forced to] learn the same. We wanted to bring a little bit more creativity back to the classroom. We show up with tools, we show up with a space to do stuff in and we show up with the expertise to run these sorts of workshops."
One of the projects they do is a laser cut stamp.
"We have kids brainstorm different things about themselves that they want to express through a logo. We have them draw their logo on paper and then onto an iPad which we then transfer to a computer and cut on this laser cutter. Then we cut it out of this special laser cuttable rubber and then we have them make handles using Sculpey."
Then they bake the clay handles in the truck.
"These are our makeshift kilns. They're a bunch of $18 toaster ovens from Target."
The idea is to show kids that technology can be creative and tangible, not just absentmindedly tapping on a touch screen.
"They're able to take something home with them, which is something we found was very important and empowering to kids. If they're able to take something home with them, it becomes something that didn't just happen once in the classroom. It becomes something that you can show your parents, show your friends, it becomes a memory."
In an age where kids are often coddled and shielded from disappointment, Spark Truck wants to show kids what the creative process is like.
"It's not just about the tools, it's about the process. It's about not being afraid to fail, not being afraid to try new things. Failure in a tangible sense feels a lot different than, like, 'Oh, I'm just gonna hit undo.'"
Unfortunately I caught up with Jason when they were getting ready to leave Seattle, but the truck will be crisscrossing the country through mid-October, bringing the crafts to the children.
"A lot of people graduate from college and they go backpacking across Europe. We think that this is a really fun adventure for us, and we feel like we're making some sort of impact also."
Click here to check out Spark Truck, or maybe even donate to their gas fund.
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