Port brew pub doubles as a laboratory for inventors

Brewer is putting his engineering background to use by offering Inventors Skillz classes for children and teens

INVENTORS BREWPUB is offering monthly STEAM lessons for children interested in learning more about science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. Inventors Brewpub owner Adam Draeger tinkered with plastic 3-D toys with Isaac Piontek, 8, and Bella Perez, 7, during the first Inventor Skillz class on Saturday, Dec. 8.
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press staff

Inventors Brewpub owner Adam Draeger is turning his restaurant into a classroom on Saturday mornings to offer youngsters lessons in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

“I like making stuff from scratch and helping people who want to learn,” Draeger said. “I feel driven and passionate about these STEAM-based life lessons.”

Draeger studied engineering and physics with his wife Erin at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and worked as an engineer in Iowa and a professional brewer in Denver, prior to opening Inventors Brewpub at 435 N. Lake St., Port Washington, 15 months ago.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, he opened his doors to students who participated in the first Inventor Skillz class, where youngsters had the opportunity to print 3-D snowflake ornaments.

“I knew the 3-D printing would be a good one because I wasn’t sure how many people I would get and I wanted to build some excitement,” he said.

Draeger said he wants to hold free classes from 9 to 11 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month and plans to offer lessons in soldering, design and computer programming.

Next month, Draeger will teach children how to make bristlebots, which involves connecting toothbrushes to a battery-powered motor.

“It’s the tiniest robot you’ll ever make,” he said.

Draeger said a benefactor recently donated 10 soldering irons to the program, and he plans to offer a tutorial on making circuits with blinking lights.

“I feel moved to do this. When I was going to school, I could not take drafting, and now that is a fairly standard course,” he said, adding more local schools are incorporating STEAM lessons in their curriculum.

Draeger is tapping into the Port Washington-Saukville School District to promote his classes and hopes other area students join.

The classes are intended for students 8 to 18 years old, and Draeger asks that each student have an adult chaperone.

Draeger said he’s heard a lot of positive feedback from the first event and hopes to have about 20 students per class.

“If 70 people showed up, I think that would be the greatest problem to have,” he said.

The father of three daughters also wants to make the lessons accessible to girls.

“I feel there are unwritten pressures at junior high that if you’re a girl, math and science are hard, and they should just focus on other stuff. Nobody says it, but it comes to be true,” he said. “We don’t want our kids to believe that they can’t be good at science and math.”

At home, Draeger is teaching his daughters Scratch computer programming, which was developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology students to educate children on how to code. They also pass the time by playing the Robot Turtles board game, which also teaches lessons about programming principles.

“Their parents are geeky engineers, so we play a lot of strategy board games,” Draeger said. “That’s what we like to do for fun, and I think they find it fascinating.”

Draeger has a couple volunteers help out at Inventor Skillz and is open to having more adults offer lessons.

“If someone says they’re good at woodcutting with computer numerical control machines, I would want them to help teach that segment,” he said. “I would love to get this going every month and have guest presenters.

“I’m trying to find new ways to collaborate. I want people to get in touch with me if they like to tinker or invent. If it’s anything related to STEAM, I want to be a big supporter.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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