Today I asked Brian Cohen, Director of the Beam Center about how hands on learning projects can be improved.

The Beam Center and Beam Camp  offer programs for students to explore and learn creatively from artists and designers.  

Brian has offered me invaluable insights and connected me to great resources in the Maker Community.  He invited me to observe programs where students learn electronics, costume design, and programming.

Here are some insights from our conversation.  This is from memory

How do you find teachers and partners to support your projects?

We use certain platforms like are summer camp to bring people in.  We invite 5-7 guest artists every week of camp. This allows us to have authentic interaction with many artist and decide if they are a good fit for future projects.  We also request submissions for art projects.  I’d love to have someone here all day making calls and doing relationship development.

Here are 3 needs for Beam Works

  1. Opportunities to learn about careers first hand through visits to studios, factories and relevant job sites.
  2. More research and assessment to prove the efficacy of programs.  (The Beam Center was awarded a grant to support this effort recently)
  3. Finding spaces where art projects can be displayed.  This motivates students and validates there work.

I’m also grateful for help letting go of concepts not at the core of this project.  For example, raising funds for students through these projects is a good idea.  One that can be developed after some of the above improvements are in place.

I look forward to speaking with Meredith of MOUSE Corps on Monday to get insights in how partnering with professionals can enhance the learning experience of youth in after-shool science and arts programs.