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Making the Future with the Davidson Middle School Maker Program

So much of the hands-on projects our Davidson Middle School students participate in are thanks to the school’s unique maker program.  Students are fortunate to have the opportunity  to explore their ideas and interests with the resources of a well-outfitted makerspace in a supportive and enriching learning environment. Guided by a supportive teacher, students work with a “do it yourself” approach and cultivate creativity, curiosity, and meaning, developing Davidson students into inventors. See how tinkering and project creation in Mr. Adam Singer's Davidson Maker workshop promotes STEM learning in San Rafael City Schools.

The history and tools for Davidson Middle School's Maker Program

Davidson was one of the few schools that kept its woodshop program through the 1990s and 2000s when most schools converted theirs into standard classrooms. Mr. Singer transformed the existing woodshop into a makerspace from grant-funded tools like cardboard cutting tools, laser cutting, robotics, 3D printing tools, and more. It is an area for making things, exploring projects, learning about new disciplines, and sharing ideas. We believe this makerspace is a dream opportunity for San Rafael City Schools where STEM education, tinkering and creating are available at our students’ fingertips.

Previously, the after-school club supported individual projects made for display at the San Mateo Maker Faire. Now, the focus is on helping students who want more enrichment, especially English language learners who do not have room for the elective.

Making the Future with the Davidson Middle School Maker Program

How does the program help Davidson Middle School students?

The Davidson Maker Program provides a safe space for students to learn and develop their ideas and interests. It's a multi-step process that starts with a vision based on an idea, creating a prototype, testing phase, and improving the designs. This process provides the following opportunities for students:

   ·   Emotional development

   ·   Practicing resilience and determination

   ·   Iterative design

   ·   Adjusting to learning from mistakes

These experiences are available to Davidson Middle School students and promote designing with empathy for a specific client’s needs and solving problems in the community. This is thanks to a combination of low-tech and high-tech tools in a supportive environment.

The best successes made from the Maker Program

Students and projects create successes every day through their work in the Maker Program. The most notable benefits from the program are:

   ·   Access: Davidson students from highly diverse backgrounds grow every year through exploring, tinkering, and creating during classes (Exploring, Maker Tech, and Advanced Maker Tech), lunch clubs, and after-school classes. 

   ·   Program Quality: It has been the goal of the Davidson Maker Program to provide  a high quality program and facilities on par with elite independent schools. 

   ·   Community: Mr. Singer is impressed at how students help and inspire each other in the middle of an open-ended project. These attitudes have allowed him to coach the students in finding solutions in their work.

Innovation with purpose at Davidson Middle School

Students often have a deep purpose connected to their projects. Whether students are making a gift for a family member or using our resources to solve a problem in our society, they become emotionally invested. Seventh and eighth-grade students, who are proficient in the tools and processes, are challenged with service projects and innovating for a purpose. Some examples include:

   ·   Service projects: identify problems or areas of improvement, design, and build a solution within the classroom or students' community.

   · Adaptive product development for a disability: students imagine a student with a specific disability and invent a device to make a task more manageable using remote- or voice-controlled robotic devices as their base.

   · Tiny homes for the homeless: Maker Tech students study homelessness issues in our community, devise solutions, design, and create scale-model small homes on wheels to meet the needs of various homeless groups. Thanks to one of those models, one of our 8th graders won in the 8-12 STEM competition at the 2019 Marin County Fair!

 What can students accomplish with the program?

Mr. Singer, along with the Davidson and SRCS team, hopes that students learn and practice the constant design process that changes their thinking from, "Is this good enough?" to "How can I make this better?" Students should feel inspired to build a community that allows them to encourage and support each other, while also boosting students’ confidence in their ability to accomplish difficult, complex things.

Making a better outcome for Davidson Middle School Students

Many students find a path to success, personally grow, develop leadership, and find their passion through innovation at the Davidson Middle School Maker Program. It speaks to the program’s success when students with difficulty in regular classrooms thrive and find success in an environment that also develops them in other parts of their lives.

Mr. Singer has enjoyed watching former students use their enthusiasm toward future endeavors. Some students go on to study engineering, science, or design at the college level or find careers in STEM fields, while others seek skilled trade careers. Students have found successes from the confidence and personal lessons gained from the program. Like all San Rafael City Schools, Mr. Singer wants students to grow as leaders and become positive agents of change in their communities. Like the devices students make, they can make a difference in their world. To learn about this program and others offered by San Rafael City Schools, visit