Formerly known as ‘Sparktruck,’ SMU’s new mobile makerspace gets a redesign inside and out before starting work this summer

Formerly known as ‘Sparktruck,’ SMU’s new mobile makerspace gets a redesign inside and out before starting work this summer

By Kim Cobb
SMU News

DALLAS (SMU) – For the long, March road trip from California to its new home at SMU in Dallas, the big, boxy vehicle carried a puzzling message on its side: “This is not a maker truck – yet!”

Spark TruckIn a matter of weeks, however, SMU students will redesign the truck, inside and out, to make it the kind of teaching tool that helps K-12 teachers explore innovative ways of inspiring their students and pursuing their own professional development. The students will refit the truck to make sure things like workflow, storage and comfort support its education mission.

“This big truck is a kind of rolling ambassador for the maker movement,” said Katie Krummeck, director of SMU’s Deason Innovation Gym. “If you’re not familiar with it, the maker movement is all about sharing creative challenges with people from very different backgrounds to build things. The explosion in easily available digital tools and software is fueling the fire, and it turns out that this kind of hands-on maker-based instruction is a great way to engage students in whatever subject they are learning.”

SMU adopted the truck from the Stanford, its home for the last five years, and brought it to Texas to help teachers fire the creative spark in their students.  Krummeck managed the SparkTruck program at Stanford before coming to SMU in August 2015, and is excited about re-tooling it for Texas.

“We’re going to develop teaching frameworks, open-source curriculum, tools and resources as well as some really engaging professional development opportunities for educators,” Krummeck said.  “And we’re going to deliver these resources and experiences out of the back of this mobile makerspace.  We’ll know what to call it after our students put their heads together during the design challenge we have planned for May 22-26.”

A group of K-12 teachers interested in the maker education movement will be joining Krummeck July 11-13 for a free, three-day immersive maker education workshop at SMU. The workshop, which has drawn 180 applicants, will be hosted in the Lyle School of Engineering’s Deason Innovation Gym, where most of the University’s immersive design challenges take place. As a bonus, workshop participants will get to meet the redesigned, newly named maker truck.  

Educators interested in learning about maker education projects should complete this form.

Spark TruckThe maker truck project is a collaboration between SMU’s Bobby Lyle School of Engineering and Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Krummeck is working with Rob Rouse, a clinical assistant professor in the Simmons School, whose research is focused on how design-based learning environments can engage students.  

“Simply building a dedicated place for students to make, or adopting a “maker-based approach” to education, does not give teachers sufficient guidance for how to successfully orchestrate worthwhile maker-based activities,” Rouse said.  “This partnership between the Lyle School and the Simmons School will position us to immediately support teachers implementing high-quality maker-based instruction in their own schools. The maker education truck will allow us to orchestrate experiences for teachers that will give them insight into the ethos of the maker movement, build their confidence with maker-based pedagogical frameworks, and acquaint them with tools and skills.”

The Simmons students are uniquely suited to help develop maker-based learning experiences, and Lyle students are fully involved in the maker movement through the immersive design challenges based out of the Deason Innovation Gym.  Krummeck calls both groups of students “untapped resources” for North Texas educators.

The truck also will be featured May 18 at STEM Night at DISD’s Mount Auburn Elementary, and will be used to help train DISD middle school teachers this summer through the Simmons School’s STEM Teacher Academy.

Find out more at  K-12 educators and administrators are welcome to contact Katie Krummeck at or 214-768-8797. And watch for #SparkTruckEvolves on Twitter.


Spark Truck