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Josh Wagner, right, instructs Matthew Martinez at the Makerspace in Lewisburg Wednesday.

LEWISBURG — Ten-year-old Caroline Scheckter looks at ordinary household items in a new way since attending workshops at the Makerspace located in SUMCD's Center for School-Age Development in Lewisburg.

"Now when I see a piece of cardboard I think we could make a painting out of that," the Lewisburg girl said.

Scheckter regularly joins a group of children in Josh Wagner's class where they are encouraged to create and explore. Wagner, the co-founder and head teacher of the after-school program that opened in March at 139 Hospital Drive, integrates science, technology, engineering, art and math in the projects they tackle such as building boats and robots.

On Wednesday, a group of about 20 youth created light bugs out of wire, batteries and LED lights.

"One of my favorite parts of this is watching where they take it," said Wagner.

While the focus is on education, Maura Smith, 11, of Lewisburg, who along with Scheckter serves as a junior assistant to Wagner said the projects doesn't feel like work.

"Once you're doing it you don't realize you're learning," Smith said.

During a visit to the Makerspace Wednesday, Betsy Saatman, a technical assistance specialist for Pennsylvania Key, a state organization that works on behalf of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, lauded the "unique facility" for offering programs that challenge children.

"The idea isn't new, but there are few that have a dedicated space for it," she said. "It's where we're going in education. Kids have to be able to think out of the box, to get out of their comfort zone and learn from mistakes."

Michelle Russell, Makerspace co-founder and Center coordinator, said the plan is to expand the program's reach by developing a mobile Makerspace for use at other centers in Snyder, Union and Mifflin counties.

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