It’s after school Thursday at Woodward Elementary School and Robert Sexton’s classroom could be mistaken for a medieval armory.
As the students in the Woodward Makers Club huddle around Sexton, they hold their latest projects — foam helmets. One-at-a-time, Sexton asks them questions about the designs of their helmets before he carefully uses a hot-glue gun to put the students’ helmets together.
Sexton said he started Makers Club last year to give students at Woodward a chance to learn how to make things and build skill sets.
“The goal is to try and build some really cool stuff,” Sexton said. “Kids today spend a lot of time on tablets, and what they don’t do is build models, tie sticks together and drive nails and build those hand or dexterity skills. A lot of times, even kids who are very successful in academics need to make stuff and learn that they can take something from their mind and make it real. Everything doesn’t have to be virtual.”
Sexton said the group works with materials like foam, paper, and cardboard, so students can continue to use the skills to build stuff at home.
“We’re doing different projects every nine weeks,” Sexton said. “If they develop an interest, these are materials that are in their life. Not having the tools and materials shouldn’t be a barrier to making stuff. You can pretty much make anything out of cardboard.”
Fifth-grade student Ignacio Rizo said Thursday that his favorite part of the club is being able to make whatever he wants.
“I like the creativity and things you can do here,” Rizo said.
Liam Browning, another fifth-grader, said he joined the club because he has Sexton as a teacher and wanted to learn how to make stuff.
“I’m a huge fan of Mr. Sexton,” Browning said. “He’s one of the coolest people. I get to spend time making stuff and hang out with Mr. Sexton and my friends.”
Browning said he enjoys that the projects get harder and more challenging.
“It’s enjoyable,” Browning said. “If you really put your mind into it, you can make awesome things.”
Fifth-grader Roman Berlin said he joined the club to hang out with his friends, but added he’s learned a lot during the club.
“I learned that there’s so much more stuff out there than video games,” Berlin said. “You can make so many things.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.