Aircraft design made fun

Aircraft design challenge participants make design changes to their Styrofoam planes during the inaugural Swift Current Creation Station event, Jan. 9.

There is a new creative space in Swift Current for children to learn and have fun through project-based activities.

Swift Current Creation Station is an initiative by local resident Max Noble, who wants to provide extracurricular learning opportunities for children interested in technology and in making and designing things.

He wants the Creation Station to be a fun and safe space where participants can engage in project-based learning, which he considers to be a powerful tool to maximize learning, creativity, innovation and problem solving.

“It’s giving kids the chance to practice it,” he said. “Project based work is great, because no matter what career you go in to, there will be project based work.”

The activities at the Creation Station will help to accelerate the learning of participants through the opportunities provided to be responsible for a project.

“You really need to practice creativity,” he said. “You need to have tools and materials just to do something, just to create something. So having a place where kids can come with ideas and having a place where they can get materials, tools and some of the mentoring accelerates their project. It makes it run quicker for them and they can learn faster.”

He is using a large commercial space in downtown Swift Current, located at 11A 1st Ave. NE to host activities. The Creation Station opened in early January and there are activities each weekend.

He is offering an aircraft design challenge to children on each Saturday during January. This activity, called the Wright Brothers Challenge, provides participants two hours to create a plane from Styrofoam. They receive some information about aerodynamic concepts at the start of the challenge and thereafter they have to design, build and test their planes.

The goal is to create a plane that will continue gliding until it can fly through a large orange target zone. The challenge is a test for their ability to learn from their design mistakes and to make improvements to their plane. Noble consider struggle to be part of the learning process.

“If they really struggle with it, not only do they learn it deeper, but when they succeed it improves their confidence,” he said.

There were eight participants for the opening weekend of the Creation Station on Jan. 9. He felt it went really well and they were really engaged during the challenge.

“They all had a really good time,” he said. “They've repeated the process of design, and try again and again until finally they got it to work. The important part is they are thinking for themselves. … In the real world you really need to be more proactive, more self motivated to get things accomplished. So this is a time for them to be practising that.”

Noble has a business and engineering background. He originally started to provide creative learning spaces to children and adults while he was teaching English in Asia.

“I wanted to see what could kids do and I've been amazed,” he said. “This started about 10 years ago and since then I've had thousands of students and all kinds of amazing things created.”

He received inspiration for these spaces from Gever Tulley, the founder of the educational program Tinkering School in California.

“He inspired me to start this,” Noble said. “I'm a creative person. I like designing and building things. So that's kind of the area that I took and just kept doing it and then found kids that were also really interested in this.”

He hopes the Swift Current Creation Station can evolve into a space where people can explore their own creativity.

“I just want to create a space where creative kids and creative people can practice and create things, and also tie it into the community in a way that we're doing events that are relevant,” he said. “I’m hoping at the end of the year we'll have a space that's full of materials and tools. Then people can walk in with an idea and then walk out a few hours later with a prototype.”

He is looking for support in the community for his initiative, and he is fundraising to acquire items that can be useful at the Creation Station.

“Right now, our most important thing we need in this space is shelving,” he said. “So I started a campaign to try to raise $1,000 to get shelving. People can either donate money or they can donate shelving, either one works.”

For more information about Swift Current Creation Station and upcoming activities, visit the Facebook page (@SwiftCurrentCreationStation) or contact Noble by sending an e-mail to maxnoble440@gmail.com

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