Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Maker Spaces at 7 Schools Keep Matt's Memory Alive

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Maker Spaces at 7 Schools Keep Matt's Memory Alive

Article excerpt

Matt Conover died in 2002 at the age of 12 after a nine-month battle with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Since then, the Conover family has worked to give back to the community that supported and comforted them in their loss.

"If we wanted our name on some monument, we would have built the Matt Conover memorial whatever, but it's not about that. Our last name isn't anywhere," said Noelle Conover, Matt's mother. "It is just about a boy."

Last year, after their youngest daughter's graduation, the Mt. Lebanon family wanted to make a donation to the school that had helped them through so much. The Conovers ended up donating $175,000 to the district to fund Matt's Maker Spaces in the district's seven elementary schools.

A maker space is a term that grew popular about 10 years ago. It is a hands-on place where students can use materials or computers to make crafts or use 3-D printers to solve problems and apply STEAM - science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics -education.

Each elementary school in Mt. Lebanon opened its own unique Matt's Maker Space in September. Where the rooms are located depended on what spaces were available in the school. Some of the Matt's Maker Spaces are in the library, some are connected to the library and others have their own classrooms.

"There are seven of them, but they all have their own personalities," Lincoln Elementary librarian Maureen Staub said.

Marybeth Irvin, assistant superintendent of elementary education, helped coordinate the maker space project.

"It really brought our school into the 21st century. The maker space is really a place for kids to experiment and think," Ms. Irvin said.

Matt's Maker Space, a nonprofit organization, was founded by Mrs. Conover after she saw a need throughout the community for these kind of spaces. They are now working with the Mt. Lebanon Public Library and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, where Mrs. Conover works as a project coordinator for a survivors program called SurvivorConnect.

"It just opened up another world. It's not just Mt. Lebanon schools. It is really taking off," Mrs. …

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