Workbench, SparkFun Team Up to Encourage Citizen Scientists

(Photo: Amanda Mills, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Amanda Mills, Creative Commons)

Education technology company Workbench has teamed up with SparkFun Education and Parrot to establish an online community called InventorSpace that combines SparkFun’s curriculum with its circuit boards and robotics components to deliver engaging supplemental content to teachers, students, and anyone interested in innovation and tech.

The SparkFun InventorSpace uses the Workbench platform to feature projects that use sensors, switches, and controllers to teach STEM skills such as geometry, math, science, art, physics, and coding, notes Michael Hart of The Journal. Furthermore, the content created within the workbenches can be used by teachers to deliver interactive classes in compliance with the NGSS standards. Teachers can fully integrate the platform into their classrooms, and they can use it to guide students, assign homework and monitor progress in real time.

The workbenches also allow interested students to make and program their own robots and drones or to share designs and print them.

Workbench, formerly known as CWIST, created education-related digital communities called workbenches that are fully integrated, custom learning management systems that facilitate maker-driven engaged education. It develops and maintains online communities on behalf of its partners, most of which are leaders in the maker space. Community members can share experiences, programs, and lessons.

Later this fall, Workbench plans to start working with schools across the country to promote its platform.

Chris Sleat, Workbench CEO and founder, commented:

“We revolve around project-based learning, focused on making, building and learning. However, this is not exactly your father’s workbench. These online sites, or ‘workbenches’ provide fun, exciting learning opportunities that teach programming, coding, and other critical STEM skills.”

The founder and CEO of SparkFun, Nathan Seidle, added:

“At SparkFun, our goal is to make the world of electronics accessible to everyone by providing the necessary tools, resources and support to help budding inventors fulfill their vision. We are excited to find a like-minded partner in Workbench that will assist us to team up with schools and districts to achieve their goals.”

SparkFun provides a wide variety of engaging tools to not only teach STEM subjects but also to give progressive teachers ways to use its products in innovative humanities and art classes.

InventorSpace extends beyond students and the classroom; anyone can join to share innovative projects, unique creations, and get feedback. Users of InventorSpace can discover engaging activities created by SparkFun and Workbench and can remix Activities, create and publish their own Activities, and share their inventions in the InventorSpace Showcase.

According to SparkFun and Workbench, electronics is more than just a hobby or a career path. They view it as a creative medium for advancing teaching and learning to solve real-world problems with technology.  The curriculum is designed as hands-on learning tools to assist the students to gain skills for the contemporary world of a digital economy – curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. The aim of SparkFun and Workbench is to teach students to experiment and become “Citizen Scientists.”