LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's a newly designed classroom inside Central High featuring science, technology and engineering and students and staff are buzzing about the opportunities "The Colony" will bring to their school.

Officials with Jefferson County Public Schools and the University of Louisville were on hand Tuesday as Central High unveiled its new makerspace, which will serve as the new home for its proposed Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Innovation magnet program and the centerpiece of the school's partnership with university.

"This is both historic and a day of celebration for us here at Central," said principal Raymond Green. "Think of this as a 21st century shop class, where students can design, and create, and bring their ideas to fruition." Senior Kenneth Thompson agreed. "You make something and right now it may not be much but in upcoming years it could be the next big thing," said Thompson. 

Central High School junior, Tasha Duncan said," I love how it's giving us an outlet to create things that could eventually change the future." 

Makerspaces are centers that combine equipment and educational resources to promote learning through play and experimentation. Inside The Colony, Central students will design, prototype and create, Green says.

"Students in the STEM program will study a wide range of foundations – coding, robotics, engineering, even hacking – to give them the skills they need to succeed in an increasingly technology-driven world," he said. "The goal is for them to graduate from Central with a patent or trademark in their name."

JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens noted that "The Colony" is not only a play on Central’s mascot -- the yellow jackets -- but a fitting term to describe the teamwork, innovation, and hard work that will take place there.

“I’m particularly proud of how student-focused this space is, from the technology and equipment that will be the new norm for students as they continue to study and hone their skills, all the way down to the name they selected for their area,” Hargens said.

The center also creates a foundation for the school’s strong partnership with the University of Louisville's J. B. Speed School of Engineering.

In addition to providing Central with up to five scholarships per year, the engineering school will allow qualifying high school seniors to take freshman-level college classes; will sponsor robotics tournaments and hack-a-thons at the center; and will help write the STEM Innovation curriculum.

“Our goal with these maker space facilities is to increase interest in the STEM fields and to help students grow their self-confidence,” said Neville Pinto, acting president of the University of Louisville. “Expect to see our Speed School students here working alongside Central students on engineering projects.”

Aside from the proposed STEM Innovation magnet program, Central High has also made a bid to expand the popular Montessori program in JCPS.

Central High has submitted a magnet application for both the STEM and Montessori magnet programs -- it will now be up to Hargens and her cabinet to bring a recommendation to the Jefferson County Board of Education for discussion and approval.

The school already has a variety of popular magnet programs – law & government, nursing, veterinary science, dental science, business/sports marketing, business finance, entrepreneurship and technology.

The makerpace at Central is being furnished with $30,000 of prototype furniture gifted from student-focused furniture maker Artcobell and $20,000 of innovative equipment, including 3D printers, laser cutters and robot fields, funded by a Verizon Innovation grant.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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