The "look, don't touch" model is the opposite of what teacher librarian Erin Cassaro encourages curious students to do when exploring Dublin Scioto High School's maker space.

Students often come into the high school's study center and see the 3-D printer, laser cutter and other high-tech equipment in the room just off the study center, Cassaro said.

And although some students are reluctant to try using the equipment themselves, Cassaro said she urges them to push past their hesitation.

"The fear gets less and less the more you make," Cassaro said.

One student who struggled in the classroom and suffered from isolation taught himself to use all the equipment and now assists other students with a new-found confidence, she said.

"He's really in his element here," she said.

In addition to the 3-D printer and laser cutter, the maker space includes a large color printer, a 3-D scanner and a virtual reality console, Cassaro said. The goal is to instill perseverance, collaboration and creativity in students who visit the space.

Maker spaces in the district were funded with Straight A grand funds, said Doug Baker, district spokesman.

Equipment was furnished at Scioto, Jerome High School and Davis Middle School at a cost of $8,000 per building, he said.

Students from all three high schools in the Dublin IT Academy regularly work on projects at the Scioto maker space, said Angie Walsh, IT Academy instructor, but any Scioto student is free to visit the lab if his or her work is finished, she said. Students have been able to use the lab since the space was furnished in March.

Cohen Immelt, a senior at Scioto, said he and other students are working this year on 2-dimensional games which they can then load into the virtual reality equipment to view their work.

"It feels like you're inside of a grid, almost," the 17-year-old said.

When designers work on a 2-D game, they focus only on what a player can see, said Osama Abuhilal, 17, a Scioto senior.

"Virtual reality, it's all angles and everything," Abuhilal said, including the player's controllers and hands.

Students can also use virtual reality equipment to play pre-loaded learning games on topics such as interior design, biology, calculus and even one that provides a virtual journey through a human body.

Cassaro had her own chance to use some of the technology in the maker space when she used the laser cutter to cut designs into small pumpkins for a maker space fundraiser.

With some coaxing, Cassaro said, she ended up convincing a student to lend a hand.

"She talked about that for days," Cassaro said of the student.

The pumpkins might have prodded the student into coming back to try her hand at another project.

Now, Cassaro said, the student wants to make something for her mom.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah