Makerspace provides high schoolers chance to gain coding skills 

High school sophomores Cohen Frankenbery and Ben Turner both have an interest in coding — a skill that is in demand and could help them easily land a job one day.  

But in Fredonia, Kansas, a rural city of 2,151, they didn’t have many resources to help them pursue that interest. 

“Our whole school just has 300 students,” Frankenbery said. “We had a coding class a few years ago, but it was discontinued.” 

Enter the Pitsco Idea Shop in Block22 in Downtown Pittsburg an hour and 15 minutes east.  

pitsco idea shop

In collaboration with a global technology education company that got its start in Pittsburg and is still headquartered here, this “makerspace” was designed and equipped to inspire innovators and dreamers to turn their ideas into reality. 

“It’s a place where creativity and inspiration meet manufacturing and production,” said Mary Louise Widmar, who directs the Idea Shop and The Foundry at Block22. 

Recent months have seen teams of students working in the Idea Shop with educators to prepare for and compete in drone competitions and model C02 dragster competitions.  

This summer’s challenge: a TETRIX ® Taskbot Tournament, made possible by Pittsburg State University, Pitsco, and Greenbush Education Service Center. 

“A TETRIX Taskbot is a programmable robot designed and sold by Pitsco,” explained Tim Lankford, a robotics application specialist with Pitsco who signed on as an advisor to students preparing to compete.  


Among them: Frankenbery and Turner, who formed a team. 

“They learned and worked at their own pace this summer, working on coding and simulations often from the convenience of their own homes with remote assistance,” Lankford said. 

The two built, programmed, refined, and tested their robot before competing with it on an obstacle course that included tasks like turning, reaching for and capturing a ping pong ball, and dropping that ball into a cup. 

Along the way, they picked up valuable skills, they said, and they found it fun, interesting, and challenging to be able to create something that works. 

“Everything they did carries over to other fields,” Lankford said. 

It also earned each of them a $1,000 scholarship to Pittsburg State University, presented after they successfully navigated the course to win the tournament. 

“I’m interested in the tech sector field,” Frankenbery said, “and there’s something about coding that just clicks with me. I’m glad I got this opportunity to explore it.” 


Learn more: 

Interested in pursuing your own opportunities at The Pitsco Idea Shop? Contact Widmar or call 620-235-6092. For more information: