My name is Ben Jarvis. I am a MET student and FabNewport intern.  I am a maker at heart. FabNewport is more than just a makerspace, it is a center for community growth and youth empowerment. The executive director of FabNewport, and one of my mentors, Steve Heath, has a simple, but powerful motto: “Make Your Life.” I think he really means it, too. FabNewport teaches people to have the confidence to improve their lives and find creative solutions to problems.  For me, FabNewport has done just that.

It all started when I took an AP Computer science class there in the Fall of 2016. I didn’t know much about technology or about FabLabs (Fabrication Laboratories). I didn’t have a plan for the future yet, because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.  As I spent more time there, I began to wonder about what was around me. I saw all kinds of equipment for digital fabrication, and examples of other work people had done.

What really impressed me was the spirit of FabNewport. People were enthusiastic about making things, figuring out how to do fix things, and improving overall. I wanted to learn how to use all of the equipment in the Lab. As I learned how to use the machines, I learned that I had the tools to make anything I wanted. Not only that, but I found out that making things isn’t that hard. I gradually began to want to make more, learn more, and do more.

Students grow exponentially once they have the confidence in learning. Too often I hear people talking about ideas they had, and when someone asks them why they didn’t pursue it, they say, “I don’t know how.” At first glance, this seems like laziness, but I think it comes from a lack of confidence in learning. The way students today learn is by waiting for someone to teach them. It is so much better, and so much more beneficial if students teach themselves.

Makerspaces truly do, as Steve Heath says, “liberate the maker intrinsic in all of us”. I’ve seen young students design products to solve their problems, rather than asking for help or trying to buy something from the store. Makers’ attitude towards learning isn’t just positive, it’s transformational.

Overall, FabNewport has helped me to be more autonomous, and to seek solutions to my own problems, a skill which will exponentially improve any student’s life.