Mastercam and CreateAskate Team Up to Inspire Young Creators

When Paul Schmitt, CEO and Founder of innovative skateboard manufacturing company PS Stix, first started CreateAskate® in 2004, he had no idea that it would take North American schools by storm in the coming years. The program pairs middle and high school students with the raw materials for a skateboard and allows their imaginations to run wild. A lifelong skater, Schmitt wanted to share his love for designing custom skateboards with kids who might not otherwise have an opportunity to explore their creativity. Now over 35,000 students in the United States and Canada have been through the CreateAskate program.

The CreateAskate program doesn’t just teach students how to put a skateboard together. The multifaceted project, tailored to fit STEM and STEAM parameters, follows the entire manufacturing process, from identifying a maple tree as veneer grade all the way to recycling old skateboards into furniture. “We’re going to talk about it in its organic nature. We’re going to talk about its botanical classification. You’re going to do a scientific experiment and you’re going to form a hypothesis and get a result, and it all relates to the toughness of a skateboard crashing into a curb. It’s all about what I can teach through the lens of a skateboard,” said Schmitt.

Each student has free reign over his or her square deck, a board made of seven layers of 1/16” maple wood veneer. The kids decide how they should cut the boards on CNC machines, where they should attach the wheels, and – most importantly – what they should paint on their decks. Schmitt wants each skateboard to be a monument to its owner’s creativity and personal abilities. He considers a skateboard a success when the student who made it is inspired to keep on creating.

Richard Nicholsan, a retired woodworking teacher who now works as an education liaison, recently helped to host a Teacher Institute event at Cerritos College, one of the premier woodworking facilities in the state. The event walked middle and high school teachers, mainly from woodworking or technology programs, through designing and building a unique skateboard so that each could run the CreateAskate program in their own schools. And, Mastercam provided funding in order for each attending educator to have his or her own skateboard deck on which to work.

Anthony Fortner, woodworking professor at Cerritos College in California and attendee of the training event, shared, “Once they start making stuff, it never ends because of the way the brain opens up, it can visualize, and then wants to make something. That visualization, planning, and producing is what any successful person is doing.” Not all of the students who go through the program will pursue careers in the manufacturing field, but the confidence they find while building something all their own will be with them their whole lives.

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