Niles nonprofit offers robotics, sewing summer camps

NILES — Entering the Niles S.T.E.A.M. Room, one will see a classroom area with tables and chairs circled around. The vacant seats are ready for students to arrive for themed summer camp offerings ranging from robotics to sewing.

The Niles S.T.E.A.M. Room, 2601 N. Fifth St., is a nonprofit makerspace that offers education and tools to get students and members started on their science, technology, engineering, art and manufacturing projects.

The makerspace will be the site to host several upcoming summer camps geared toward children as young as 7 and as old as 14.

The summer camp offerings will include a Science Summer Camp July 13-17, Weaving Summer Camp and Robotics WeDo 2 Summer Camp July 27-31, a Craft Summer Camp and Sewing Summer Camp Aug. 3-7, and Exploring Weaving Summer Camp and Science Explorers Summer Camp hosted Aug. 10-14.  Information to sign up may be found on the Niles S.T.E.A.M. Room’s website and Facebook page.

Each student will have assigned tools to use in each of their classes, which will be sanitized before use. Class sizes will be limited to four to six students, to keep with COVID-19 precautions and safety measures.

The machines and tools at the Niles S.T.E.A.M. Room have been quieter since the COVID-19 mandates. The electronic chug of the sewing machines, the gentle hum of the 3-D printer and firing of the kiln have been less frequently heard in the facility. There are multiple areas within the facility, including the manufacturing room with multiple sewing machines, the technology studio with the 3-D and laser printer, and the artist studio with the pottery wheel and kiln. Each area inspires new projects to begin.

Manufacturing director Meg Edwards is looking forward to more activity at the facility. She is energized by the prospect of having new students in the building.

“I’m excited to be back teaching and working with the kids,” Edwards said.

The camps will range in topic from sewing and weaving to robotics and science. With each focus, the campers will be exposed to new tools and methods for creating both artwork and usable objects.

Edwards has sewn her whole life.

“There are fun things for the kids to do in the camps,” she said. “Sewing will start with a pillow case that they can use right away, then something like a library bag. Depending on time, we might add something else.”

The sewing camp will utilize sewing machines, teaching both a personal and professional skill set to students. The facility has enough equipment for each student to work at their own machine.

A part of the S.T.E.A.M. Room’s mission is to “foster intergenerational relationships and provide incubation space and mentors for budding entrepreneurs,” according to the website.

With skills students can learn and build upon, Edwards hopes to guide and educate more skilled sewers into trade.

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