Upward Bound students unleash creativity in Makerspace

Published July 17, 2023
Updated Aug. 07, 2023

This summer, Arizona high school students in the Upward Bound program gained experience working with new creative and emerging technologies in the ASU Library’s Makerspace. Students spent several weeks learning about 3D printing at Hayden Library on the Tempe campus, and successfully completed final projects to take home. 

Several 3D printed models in different colors and shapes
3D printed models created by Upward Bound students.

“This is the sixth year we’ve been working with Upward Bound students and it helps students understand the library and all the things they can do in a Makerspace,” said Victor Surovec, who leads the Makerspace team with program manager Alexia Lopez Klein and specialist Michael Sepulveda.

“We’re always thrilled to work with Upward Bound students,” said Lopez Klein. “This year we hosted a fantastic group of students that spent four weeks working with and learning from our creative Makerspace student workers.”

Upward Bound, led by TRIO and Educational Outreach and Student Services has been in operation at ASU since 1966. The program prepared over 200 students for college. According to its website, the program is “designed to improve academic performance, increase student motivation and facilitate the transition from one level of education to the next.” 

The students take classes in English, math and financial literacy, and the Makerspace offers sessions focused on tech literacy. A tour is given at the beginning of the program to show the students the many tools offered in Makerspace. “In addition to learning about 3D printing, students were able to explore our wide range of activities, such as making buttons and zines and experiencing virtual reality,” said Lopez Klein. "We are able to gauge the students' interests to spark and encourage a more personal learning journey.”

Upward Bound involves the whole Makerspace team, including a talented group of student workers who work with the program’s participants.

“My favorite part about this annual program is seeing how the students feel accomplished by the end of it,” said Sepulveda. “It’s inspiring to see our Makerspace student workers mentor the participants.” 

3D printed models in various colors and shapes on a table in front of an Upward Bound 2023 sign

Claire Nelson is an ASU senior studying sustainability and geography and has worked in the Makersapce for a year as a student worker. “This year was very successful, and the students were very engaged and excited,” said Nelson. “Sometimes, thinking about creating any project you want can be overwhelming. Having a focused project where all the students were tasked to create a 3D-printed lamp helped everyone” 

The lamps are powered by small LED lights and help students learn about basic electricity and circuits. Parts of their 3D model were printed with glow-in-the-dark plastic so that they will continue to glow. 

“We had batteries and LEDs leftover from an event last year and I thought it would be a great opportunity to repurpose these into a light-up project to help focus the students' interest,” said Lopez Klein.

After the students designed their 3D models, each class had a 3D printer to print them out. For the last day of class, the Makerspace team hosted a showcase of 3D models using a virtual reality gallery made by student worker Vaughn Klein.

Person holding an iPad displaying a 3D augmented reality museum of objects on pedestals
Students were able to experience 3D printed models in the augmented reality gallery.

"This year, I introduced an augmented reality gallery with life-sized versions of their models placed in the same room that they spent the summer learning,” said Lopez Klein. “This helps the students understand the different contexts in which their designs can be used. Many of them do not have access to 3D printers to make the models physical, but they can always continue modeling and working digitally.” 

After learning new technologies and experiencing trial and error, students gained new perspectives.

One student shared, “I thought this was going to be really hard, but in the end it was easy. I started with a heart-shaped wheel on the base then added the top. This experience makes me want to 3D print more.”

Another student created a small mushroom-shaped lamp. “The project was more difficult than I thought, and there is a lot to 3D printing I didn’t realize. The staff helped me a lot with my ideas and they helped me put the shapes together.”

The program continues to grow and evolve every year and will remain an impactful summer outreach initiative.

“Every single year is different. Five years ago, we didn’t have VR headsets. We’re always adding new technology and introducing students to how they can interact with these tools,” said Surovec.

“Having the Upward Bound program in the library is a special experience,” said Lopez Klein. “These students get to see all the incredible creative services libraries offer like 3D printing and tech lending, and how many people are here to help and support them. We want to see all of them at ASU someday.”

A group of people sitting and standing smiling for the camera
Makerspace staff and student workers after the Upward Bound project showcase