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Drake Innovation Studio Fosters Student Creativity

As Drake University students enter the last month of their fall semester, workloads are heavy and stress levels are high. The Drake Innovation Studio, located in Meredith Hall in Room 124C, provides a welcome creative break for students.

The Innovation Studio gives students free rein over 3D printers, button makers, T-shirt vinyl press and more, with the goal of fostering creativity and community at Drake.

Chris Snider, Drake professor specializing in social media, started the Innovation Studio with a vision.

 “This is about students and helping students do things that they want,” Snider said. “The hope is that students learn how to do something, and when they come to make it, they bring someone else and teach them how to do it too.”

Activities range from simple button-making to lengthy 3D printing. Students looking to dip their toes in the water can start simple.

“At the very least, come learn how to make stickers and buttons,” Snider said. “It’s the simplest thing, and students tend to enjoy it. Don’t feel like you have to be some STEM student to come here.”

Drake art professor Emily Newman understands the value of students being able to have a mental break, and sees the Innovation Studio as a solution.

“We know elementary kids learn better when they get short breaks of recess,” Newman said. “The brain functions better when you can stop for 15 minutes and just do something else, and then come back to a task and focus. It’s expected as adults that we can hang on longer, and I don’t know if that’s necessarily true.”

Students such as Sophie Van Zee, environmental science major and RHA president, turn to creativity for these breaks.

“Being creative does help me cope with stress,” Van Zee said. “I write in a journal and sometimes I draw poorly. Currently, I’m doing a latch hook project. I think it’s nice to have something that you don’t necessarily have to concentrate on really hard.”

In the Innovation Studio, students can create without the pressure for it to be perfect or even good.

“Having an outlet for creativity is really important for oneself, not necessarily for an audience,” Newman said. “We often talk about using one’s voice, and some people take it as they need to say something profound, but on the opposite end, you can just be using your voice for you as a person to listen, and not for a larger audience.”

The most valuable thing made in the Innovation Studio is the community.

“Creating arts creates a community through the sharing of that experience,” Newman said. “Performing the same tasks around others is important. It’s why so many of our students prefer to be in class working, even if they’re not working at the same thing, even if you don’t talk to the person next to you, there’s still this intense feeling of focused energy that goes into making something.”

The Innovation Studio is available to all Drake students for their creative endeavors or simply to take a break as long as Meredith Hall is open, and asks that students practice social distancing.

“I thought the room had a very good energy, and it had a lot of resources that I could use,” Van Zee said. “I liked it a lot.”

Students interested in learning how to utilize the Innovation Studio can email Chris Snider at chris.snider@drake.edu, or head down to Room 124C in Meredith to see for themselves.

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