A New Kind of Magic School Bus: Mobile Makerspaces and Increased Access

Boy stepping into yellow school bus

Beaverton School District’s bus #224 has been operational since 1989, but it's been given a 2016 makeover. BSD remodeled #224, painting the exterior bright colors and reimagining the interior into a “Future Bus,” filled with equipment to engage the next generation of innovators. This portable makerspace is stocked with 3D printers, computer stations, electronics and coding equipment; bringing STEAM experiences all around the district, increasing accessibility and ensuring that all students are engaged throughout the school year and even during the summer!

The Future Bus is part of a nationwide “fleet” of bus makeovers. Some aim to achieve STE(A)M ends, such as Baltimore County Public Schools’ “Mobile Innovation Lab” and San Antonio’s “Geek Bus,” sponsored by SASTEMIC. Others explore different mobile endeavors, like "Artie the Art Bus" in Eugene, Oregon, and "Bozone Ozone Bus," a portable green house that connects gardening to science lessons in Bozeman, Montana.

And it's not just about transforming the school bus, either—sometimes it's about elevating it. In Coachella Valley Unified School in California, some students don't have internet access after school due to affordability and connectivity issues. Superintendent Darryl Adams said in an interview with PBS News Hour: "We have 1,250 square miles to cover, larger than the state of Rhode Island. So, when we [were] out there, [there] were spots in every which way [where] students weren’t connected, [so] we said, well, how can we get them connected? And so one of the ways, we said, look, we got 100 buses. Let’s put Wi-Fi routers on those buses. And let’s park them where the need is." Now, students see buses as transportation and wifi hotspots: two truly important modes of connectivity.

To read more, visit Edutopia’s compilation of these classrooms-on-the-move.

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