With the truck parked in the parking lot, each class had an opportunity to board the truck and view its equipment, including a laser cutter, 3-D printer, and glue gun. Students also experienced a lab where they built a moving robot by connecting a battery and a motor with two wires.
Before students started building, Eugene Korsunskiy, Stanford Design Program alum and co-founder of SparkTruck, led students through a brainstorming exercise. Students had a minute to list animals that live in the water and that live on land, in order to take animals from both list to draw a new animal species. Results included a bird fish, a tiger walrus, and many others. The activity sparks creativity and introduces students to the process of prototyping, or way of working towards a solution by experimenting and learning from mistakes.
Co-founder Jason Chua said, “We’re trying to show students they have the ability to figure things out themselves, that they can just try it out and not always rely on an adult.”
Since June, SparkTruck has traveled nearly 12,000 miles from California to the East Coast visiting elementary and middle schools along the way. At the time of its UT Elementary School stop, another 193 schools had requested an appearance. Schools are selected based on funding provided by schools, individual donors and corporations. While in Austin, the SparkTruck also visited four other schools and the Girl Scouts. The appearances were made possible through Central Texas Discover Engineering.