On the 3rd floor of the Maryland Science Center, wood is measured, saws are cutting and hammers are banging. All of it is part of a new hands-on experience called, The Shed.
The Shed, a hybrid workshop and laboratory, looks like a set from a children’s show. Crafts and artwork are displayed around the room along with several workbenches where real work is done—work like constructing toolboxes, making seed bombs, and printmaking. Like most things created by the Science Center, a great deal of care and thought went into it.
As we entered, we were cheerfully greeted and offered protective goggles. That was our first indication that real things were about to happen. We found our way to a large empty workbench and sat down.
Everyone settled and Jen, our instructor for the morning, taught us about a variety of tools we’d be use that morning—drill, saw and vises—and how to use them. After the demonstrations were over, we went back to our bench to try out the tools on our own.
Once practice was over, the real building began. Jen showed us step-by-step how to build a wooden tool box. The kids measured and cut the wood all by themselves. Then they predrilled holes and hammered in nails to create their woodworking masterpieces. It was amazing to watch. Their confidence grew and each of my kids produced something far superior to what I created in my middle school shop class.
From a parent standpoint, I was completely impressed. First of all, the staff was amazing. There were enough people there to help the kids throughout the process. They were incredibly patient, even taking the time to walk the kids through drill torque and discuss the difference between nails. My kids ate it up! I think the key to its success was this—it was challenging enough to be interesting and yet, not so challenging that they walked out with something that looked like, well, a lopsided pile of wood nailed together.
Entry to The Shed is free with the price of admission to the Science Center, but DIY Workshops are an extra fee or $15 per class and you need to sign up ahead of time. You can reserve your space by calling 410-545-5980. Most workshops are designed for ages 10+, anyone under 16 must participate with an adult.
Upcoming DIY Workshops at The Shed
The next series of DIY workshops are all about food science — just in time for summer markets!