The Nest Finds New Home in Gelb Science Center

The Nest has a variety of tools, including a laser cutter, 3D printers, and sewing machines.

Outfitted with gadgets such as a virtual reality headset and multiple 3-D printers, The Nest allows the Andover community to manifest their ideas in real life by using the variety of tools available.

The Nest, whose previous home was in the basement of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL), has been temporarily relocated to Gelb Science Center Room 307 during the OWHL’s renovation this year.

Claudia Wessner, Makerspace Coordinator and Lead Experience Designer, said, “I think it is actually cool to make an adventure to have it in a different space for a year. I may get some new students in here that might not [have] come into the [The Nest who] are just in Gelb and they want to check it out. So it is actually kind of like a little ‘Nest on the Go.’ ”

Neil Thorley ’19 said that despite its relocation, The Nest has been able to maintain its ultimate function of allowing students to create and design various projects.

Thorley said, “I was wary [of the new space] at first, because I wasn’t sure how I would adapt… but ultimately I think it was a fairly good change. I think we may have in fact all the tools [we had in the old Nest]. Ultimately, it is functioning just as well. It is a little annoying that it is not in the space with the library… It’s less centralized, but ultimately for the purpose for projects, designing and making things, I think it serves its functions very well.”

The Nest opened four years ago with only two Makerbot 3-D printers. Now, The Nest is equipped with a machines such as an Oculus virtual reality headset as well as a vinyl cutter for stickers, a laser cutter, and three sewing machines.

Thorley said, “My favorite tool would probably be the laser cutter. I just use it for so many things. I know a lot of classes use it. Currently, a History-100 uses it for [a project on] Plato’s Cave; Math-360 [Precalculus Parametric and Polar Curves] uses it for a graphing project. I most recently used it to make Model Nation awards [for an event] that was held on campus. It’s a very versatile tool that is limited by just your creativity and how you can make use of it.”

The Nest is open to all members of community and is used by individual students, clubs, and academic classes alike.

Wessner said, “We have almost a class from every department throughout the year. We do have a lot of history classes, which I think is awesome. [People] don’t usually think of history [as being able to utilize] The Nest, but it gets you thinking in a different way. It gets you hands-on, thinking about the concepts you are learning in a totally different environment.”

Claire Cahill ’22 is currently using The Nest for her project on Plato’s Cave in her History-100 class. The class is using Adobe Illustrator, a computerized illustration program, and the laser cutter to make a 3D model of a cave according to Cahill.

In addition to academic classes, student-run clubs also utilize the tools in The Nest. The club Eve Tech received funding through The Nest for its project to build a prosthetic hand.

Thorley said, “One of the clubs I am part of, Eve Tech, is focused on innovative design processes. We are currently working on a prosthetic that can mimic a hand’s motion. We told [Michael] Barker, [Director of Academy Research, Information, and Library Services], that we need all of these very specialized electronic components, and he [said], ‘This sounds awesome,’ so he funded it. He ordered all the parts for it.”

The Nest will be expanded during the OWHL renovation, allowing for more equipment and space for innovation.

Wessner said, “It will be different. So it’s going to be a lot larger, much larger than the original Nest. We are going to have a whole robotics lab. We are going to have a data lab. More teaching space. More storage. We are also going to have a second laser cutter, so we will have two laser cutters in the new [Nest]. It’s going to be pretty fantastic. I can’t wait.”

Thorley said, “I was pretty involved with the renovation process. I would go to all the meetings. I would talk to Mr. Barker about what we want… I would talk to Mr. Barker a lot about ‘Okay, these are the things we have and these are the things we need to have.’ So I was pretty involved in the process of creating the new Nest and what would be ideal. So I am very sad that I wouldn’t be able to see the fully completed design, but I will definitely come back to visit.”

Wessner said she hopes the expanded Nest will allow students greater access to materials and that they will continue to create.

Wessner said, “The Nest is very important because it gives students a kind of a creative outlet, so not only is it used for classes where they might build something, but it is also used for personal projects students are interested in. Whether it’s developing an app that they need some help or guidance, or some brainstorming. It’s really great for that. One of my favorite things about this space that goes beyond just making things is the connections that students make together in this space.”