They may be children, but the students at the Island School on Manhattan’s Lower East Side are already social entrepreneurs. Inside their campus laboratory, called Makerspace, they develop art and technology to take on adult-sized challenges.
“One thing we don’t do in our Makerspace is hide from issues affecting our lives,” said Lou Lahana, who has taught at the school for 20 years and is the lab’s coordinator.
Using high- and low-tech materials, students have sewn pillows for people who are homeless and designed t-shirts to raise disability awareness. They have recorded public service announcements about domestic abuse and filmed a documentary about Islamophobia. The goal of these projects is to “shine a light on the dark places to make the shame and sadness scatter away,” said Lahana, this year’s winner of the FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence.