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A big red truck filled with cutting-edge maker tools that goes from school to school, bringing the joy of building back to kids. Read more

Stanford, CA Hardware
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$31,275
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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on March 24, 2012.

A big red truck filled with cutting-edge maker tools that goes from school to school, bringing the joy of building back to kids.

Stanford, CA Hardware
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About this project

Follow us on Twitter for the most up-to-date info!

We're in the news!
Core 77: SparkLab Gives New Meaning to Hands-On Education
MAKE: Shop Class of the Future... on Wheels
Stanford Daily: Sparks of Creativity

We're a group of Stanford d.school students passionate about making, education and technology.  For the past six months, we've talked with teachers, students, and other experts about hands-on learning.  We were shocked to find that due to tight budgets and strict testing requirements, many schools don't have the flexibility or equipment to support hands-on building.

Why this matters:

Student engagement is one of the best predictors of academic success, and there are few things more engaging than designing and building something with your hands.  Education leaders like Sir Ken Robinson and Salman Khan have called for more creative and integrated projects in schools, but many districts just don't have the resources or space to support these kinds of activities.

The truck:

With your help, we'll find and outfit a delivery truck with cutting-edge maker tools and software (like laser cutters, 3D printers, and hand tools) and drive from school to school bringing teachers and students the resources and equipment they need to create engaging, educational activities.  We'll use our expertise in making, education and technology to help teachers come up with creative ways to teach their curriculum, and enable them to bring more excitement into their classrooms.

UPDATE: We have a truck (for now)!!! HUUUGE THANK YOU to Matt Hengehold of Hengehold Trucks for letting us borrow one of his 11' step vans until the end of June! We're excited to be able to drive around to different schools right away, while we wait for funding to get a permanent truck of our own.  

What you're helping us get:

  • 16' step van
  • laser cutter
  • 3D printer
  • auxiliary generator
  • vinyl cutter
  • tables
  • cabinets
  • awning
  • materials
  • hand tools
  • much much more!

What people are saying:

All along our journey, we've been encouraged by the support we've received from teachers, students, parents and makers. Here's some of what we've heard so far:

"It's really exciting to see you bringing this creative confidence back to the classroom... this is the kind of learning that really sticks with kids."
  - David Kelley, Founder of IDEO

"I love the truck. This is a great way to bring the tools and materials for making to more young makers."
  - Dale Dougherty, Founding editor of MAKE Magazine

"This is an incredibly cool idea – getting these tools into the hands of kids!"
  - Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk and fellow Maker

"Having a resource like this would be so empowering to teachers and students!"
  - Marcy Barton, 5th grade teacher and education pioneer

"My favorite part of your visit is that I can finally build something for myself and I finally became an inventor."
  - Brian, 6th-grader

FAQ

  • We're strong believers in scalability and impact. Our ultimate goal is to have permanent facilities installed in schools, prepackaged units that PTAs can purchase, and online resources that let people replicate the facilites and activities we're developing.

    For us, the truck is a prototype and a way to inspire a larger movement towards getting making back into more schools. SparkLab is as much a project about awareness as it is about our one truck. We're hoping that by having a singular, "sticky" story (at least to begin with), we can touch more schools personally than a single install would. At the same time, we'll use the truck as a platform in which to try out our ideas about exactly what kinds of materials/tools/space layout would work the best, and once we have something that we're sure is great, it's off to the races with mass distribution!

    Last updated:
  • We've run a few workshops so far and have reached upwards of 200 students in the past month alone! You can take a look at some pictures and postcards we've gotten from our workshops so far in Update 4 in the "Updates" section.

    We've run pre- and post-visit affective evaluations to determine attitude changes in our participants, and we've found that students were thrilled to learn that they could build anything with a few simple tools and a lot of imagination. Even more exciting, we found that students were far more likely to consider themselves builders after our visit than before we came.

    Last updated:

Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    34 backers

    Thanks for keeping us going! We'll dedicate a gallon of gas in your honor and give you a virtual high-five.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $15 or more

    129 backers

    Your name on the truck!
    We'll put a personalized Sponsor Sprocket with your name on the side of the truck.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    94 backers

    A truck in your mailbox!
    We'll send a personalized laser-cut truck postcard anywhere in the U.S. and put a personalized Sponsor Sprocket on the side of the truck.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    49 backers

    A gift from a student!
    We'll send you a personalized gift created by a student during one of our workshops. You'll also get a laser-cut postcard from us, and a Sponsor Sprocket on the side of the truck.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    26 backers Limited (24 left of 50)

    Visit us at Maker Faire!
    We'll send you a ticket to Bay Area Maker Faire (May 19-20) so you can come say hi to us and get a personal VIP tour of the truck. There, you'll get to put your own Sponsor Sprocket on the side of the truck, and create your own laser cut mini truck. (Special thank you to Maker Faire for donating tickets!)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    19 backers

    Special edition truck poster!
    We'll send you a very special interactive poster that you can turn into your very own mini truck. We'll also send you a personalized gift created by a student during one of our workshops. A Sponsor Sprocket with your name will also be placed on the side of the truck.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    5 backers

    Let's go fly a kite!
    Join us for a special afternoon of kite making and flying, as well as a classy picnic at the beach. You'll leave with your very own kite made using our laser cutter as well as a gift from a student. You'll also get a chance to place your own Sponsor Sprocket on the side of the truck.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    1 backer

    Sponsor a workshop!
    We'll use your contribution to hold a workshop for students in your name. We'll send you a special group thank you made by all the participants in the workshop and put a special commemorative Sponsor Sprocket on the side of the truck.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    4 backers

    A visit from the truck!
    Beepbeep! We'll visit you or any school of your choosing in the Bay Area and run a custom workshop in your name. You'll get a special Sponsor Sprocket commemorating this event, and a collection of other keepsakes made during the workshop.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $5,000 or more

    1 backer

    Road trip!
    We'll come visit you ANYWHERE (in the continental U.S.) and run a special workshop for the group of your choosing. You'll get a deluxe set of keepsakes from this event as well as a super special Sponsor Sprocket (whew, that was a lot of Ss) on the side of the truck.

    Estimated delivery:

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Funding period

- (31 days)