August 26, 2020

Previous Intensives

Community Schools Research and Practice.  |  Our Lives, Our World. Teaching  and Learning About Human Rights Alongside Youth.   |  Intersections of Our Homes, Schools and Communities (Spring 2022)   |   Intergroup Dialogue on Race and Migration (Fall 2021)     |  MakerBoards: A Return to Play  |   Intersections of Our Homes, Schools and Communities |   French Language Lessons (Spring 2021)|  Legal Challenges: Local Interventions in the Criminal-Legal System  |  Life in a Buddhist Monastery |  Writing Medicine |  Fundamentals of Grant Writing (Fall 2020)  |  Music for Empowerment  | Intergroup Dialogue on Race and Migration. (Spring 2020)| French Language Lessons (Spring 2020) | Fundamentals of Grant Writing (Spring 2020) | Class Without Walls in Nature

[MUSI] 290, MakerBoards: A Return to Play, Spring 2021

INSTRUCTOR: Professor Christine Howlett.

THEMATIC CLUSTER: Education, Public Art

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Students created “Maker Boards,” a COVID-safe play space that they designed and implemented at Haviland Middle School in Hyde Park, NY


Summer 2020: Three Vassar students designed and constructed makerBoards. (makerBoards are a series of mobile plexiglass windows that invite people of all ages to co-create while mitigating exposure to the coronavirus. From dry-erase art creations, to musical compositions, to something as simple as a game of checkers, the goal of makerBoards is to allow for a safe return to imaginative and cooperative play. ) 

Summer and early Fall 2020: Students conduct active outreach to various local organizations to introduce them to makerBoards. Students connect with the Haviland Middle School librarian through Arts Mid-Hudson.

Fall 2020: Students brainstorm with OCEL to decide on an organization to partner with. They begin to regularly meet with Haviland School Librarian and learn that the pandemic has severely curtailed hands-on creative activities in both structured lessons and informal play at the school. In brainstorming with the Librarian, they aim to use makerBoards as a tool to enable students to once again play collaboratively and foster new connections in school. The students plan to make custom makerBoards to serve as a tool for Haviland teachers and library staff to resume preexisting programming and create entirely new activities. 

Spring 2021: The OCEL connects students to a faculty sponsor and the students begin to regularly meet with the Haviland librarian and a teacher to learn about their goals and discuss how makerBoards can best support the Maker Space’s programming.  Students also meet with the Middle school students to involve them in the design process.  Students deliver a custom board at the end of the semester. 

OCEL’S ROLE: Mostly as a sounding board for the idea and brainstorming ideas for possible partnership


Haviland Middle School, Hyde Park, New York


This was student- initiated and driven. Students met twice a week to design and build a MakerBoard in addition to meeting with the partner organization. The faculty sponsor served as an advisor and mentor rather than instructor.




  • Materials and Supplies 


Student Takeaway: “Students are committing to a process and to a partnership more so than they are committing to an envisioned outcome/product.”

Photo credit: Christine Howlett

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