Tompkins Awarded LIRT Project of the Year Award


From left, Johnson, Tuttle, Yang and Sefcik smile proudly as they stand together at the library. All four collaborated to make the 3-D markerspace happen.

Baneen Rizvi, Editor in Chief The Nest

In commemoration of the Library of the Year (LIRT) Project, Tompkins High School has been generously awarded the LIRT Project of the Year Award for the school’s implementation of the 3-D makerspace initiative in the library. Created by the Texas Library Association, this award honors innovative library projects developed for new programs and opportunities available to students. For librarian Michelle Tuttle this was nothing short of the perfect occasion to create a community outside of books for students to come together and share their knowledge.

“Working on this project was absolutely fun for me,” said Computer Sciences teacher Bryan Johnson. “With the help of Mr. Sefcik, we were able to come together and help achieve Mrs. Tuttle’s dream, something that I will always be proud of.”

It was difficult at first for Tuttle to bring her idea to life on her own, and she realized she could not finish the project without a successful solution to her problem. To accomplish her goal, Tuttle required some help in order to master the art of 3-D printing. After contacting Johnson over a question on creating a 3-D printing makerspace, the pair got to work with engineering teacher Daniel Sefcik, sharing their 3-D printing knowledge and imploring over different ways to make the makerspace reality.

“Although we were able to smooth over the mix-ups regarding using the 3-D printer, there were still obstacles in the way,” Johnson said. “Finding resources allowable on the network, 3-D printer difficulties and helping students understand the 3-D software in the limited enrichment time were a couple challenges we had to work through and find a solution for.”

Despite solving the technical difficulties of the project, Johnson and the team still had issues with time management and turning the project into a full-fledged student program. To resolve this setback, Tuttle invited sophomore Justin Yang- who is well-versed in 3-D printing and design- to join the team and help assist in teaching students how to use 3-D printers. Yang was delighted to help, and in a matter of time he successfully created a curriculum of lessons for students to easily understand. Soon, Tuttle was able to invite students for 3-D printing workshops in the library led by Yang.

“We offered students to come and join us, during enrichment, to learn 3-D creating skills, 1 workshop per holiday,” Johnson said. “The students that arrived in the library would sit at computers to follow along. A display screen would be used to walk them through the creation of 3-D object files using different methods and sites. Afterwards they were offered the ability to 3-D print their results and get a trinket from the experience.”

The makerspace initiative then became a favorable library activity among students. In December 2022, Tuttle hosted an ornament design activity which drew a lot of interest and many students participated. Students received instruction beforehand through Yang’s workshops and were given opportunities to create more in their own free time. Since then, Tuttle has hosted a variety of other activities and her, Johnson, and Sefcik hope to hold future STEM challenges for students to work together, create, design and develop products and create a passionate community of students in STEM at the school.

“With this new 3-D makerspace, I hope we can increase the STEM impact of student development,” Johnson said. “Each student is learning their personal likes and dislikes. They often do not realize if they would be interested in a subject, but the makerspace gives them an opportunity to touch on the ideas that design, coding and engineering can provide a student.”