Innovative Pop-Up Makerspace Comes to Three Rivers Community College

Norwich, CT – A pop-up makerspace has taken over The Gallery at Three Rivers for the month of September. The makerspace, which was installed in the last weeks of August, holds fifty pounds of white Legos, two-thousand KEVA Planks, and a visual arts station for innovation. The intent of the makerspace is to promote active learning, team building, and multidisciplinary approaches to inquiry and creating. Faculty have been invited and encouraged to hold classes in the space and adapt the materials and hands-on learning into their curricula.
Professor of Early Childhood Education Sheila Skahan introduced the idea of the pop-up makerspace to Three Rivers. She was inspired by “Sparks,” the makerspace in New London, an exhibit at MoMA, and the experience of bringing her own class to the Three Rivers Community College manufacturing lab to help them visualize blueprints for flexible classroom seating. Skahan wanted to expand the experiential learning opportunities at Three Rivers and formed a committee to bring it to fruition.
The Three Rivers Foundation funded the project, which created a highly visible, beautiful space that gives faculty an opportunity to introduce experiential learning into the classroom. Sandra Jeknavorian, Professor of Art and Gallery Director, was open to the concept and has created the visual innovations. Skahan explained, “Faculty can incorporate the space and tools into their own disciplines or use it as a community builder within their classroom time.”
The makerspace will be incorporated into classes in different ways depending on the subject and curriculum.  Students will work closely to create structural forms to facilitate imaginations and higher-order thinking.

  • Mike Gentry, Assistant Professor of Engineer, passionate about experiential learning and robotics, will be hosting a two-week LEGO contest. The LEGOS are white which will allow students to focus on form. 
  • One public speaking class is going to allow students to create a mock “Shark Tank.”  Students will collaborate in small groups to create a prototype item and then will spend two classes “pitching” their ideas as a form of persuasive speech.
  • The makerspace committee will host tours and lectures on the role and intent of makerspaces. After the five weeks have elapsed, the Legos and KEVA Planks will be available to borrow from the library so classes can continue to embrace active learning.  
The grand opening for the makerspace will be held on Wednesday, September 5 from 12:30-1:30 pm. Students are can use the space outside of class Monday through Thursday from 12:30-1:30 pm, and the public is invited to several guest-speaker sessions. On Thursday, September 6 at 12:30 pm, Kem Barfield will give a “Google Tilt Brush Presentation.” On Wednesday, September 12 at 6:00 pm, Casey Moran and John Curran, both involved in New London’s makerspace, will present “Building Makerspaces in your Community;” and Family Night will be held on Wednesday, September 19 from 5:00-7:00 pm for the community to visit and create with their families.
* * *
Three Rivers Community College is an accessible, affordable, and culturally diverse two-year college located in Norwich, Connecticut, with an off-campus instructional center at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton. Knowing that the educational goals of its students are as diverse as their backgrounds, Three Rivers provides a broad range of credit and non-credit liberal arts, sciences, nursing, engineering, manufacturing, career and technical courses.  The student population consists of more than 4,300 enrolled students each semester. To learn more about what Three Rivers has to offer, visit