On Thursday, May 20, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS) members at the Mary Ellen & Robert McKee Branch in Fountain Hills celebrated the opening of their new STEAM Makerspace Studio. Mary Ellen McKee, the lead funder of the newly designed McKee Branch space, was on hand to welcome kids to the site’s latest addition.

“This is another dream come true for me to provide this opportunity for kids and teens,” McKee said. “This room is filled with amazing technology and equipment...kids will have a great time as they think, create and invent. This will be a steppingstone in preparing kids for the great futures that lie ahead for them.”

Inside the Makerspace, club members will take part in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) programming with immediate and exciting connections to real-world applications using leading edge STEAM-related equipment like 3D printers, laser engravers, electronics, robotics, drones and circuitry.

In early 2020, Mary Ellen McKee underwrote the BGCS STEAM initiative in Fountain Hills to provide one-of-a-kind opportunities for youth in kindergarten through 12th grade, preparing and inspiring them for projected growth in Arizona STEAM careers.

The McKee Branch is the second BGCS site to undergo the buildout of a STEAM Studio, slated for each of the youth development organization’s nine sites by the end of next year.

“It was important to Mary Ellen and Robert – and to us – that the initiative was comprehensive and sustainable to grow and evolve with advances in technology,” said Ivan Gilreath, BGCS CEO. “Our STEAM Makerspace vision includes three ingredients: Innovative spaces, state-of-the-art equipment and world-class programming to engage and inspire club members. The McKee’s have been instrumental in our ability to gather all of the ingredients.”

The Club’s STEAM programming is being developed by Dr. Donna Jagielski, Director of STEAM Makerspace Programs for BGCS, with a focus on youth being able to investigate beyond a set curriculum and explore their own big ideas. The programming includes collaborations with industry leaders and post-secondary institutions.

As a result of the STEAM Makerspace initiative, University of Advancing Technology (UAT) has announced the creation of a BGCS Club member scholarship that covers half of the tuition for four academic years.

For more information about the STEAM Makerspace Studios or to register a child to participate, call the McKee Branch at 480-344-5400 or visit bgcs.org. A community open house will be held in the near future.