from eSchool News by Trevor Shaw, Director of Technology, Dwight-Englewood School
The Maker Movement embodies so much of what we are trying to achieve in education, that it isn’t surprising to see so many schools giving over precious square footage to Makerspaces.
Creating a space, stocking it, and staffing it, however, are just the beginning, and some might say, the easiest part of the job.
In order for such a space to have an impact on school culture, you have to design engaging activities and projects. While this task sounds daunting, you don’t have to be an expert, and you don’t have to have a huge budget to get started in small but meaningful ways.
Below are five guiding principles for schools to consider as they prepare to launch their makerspace or to bring their existing space to the next level.
1. Stock your space as best you can. Don’t let budget limitations keep you from getting started.
Laser cutters and 3D printers definitely get kids excited, but starting with a glue gun and repurposed, recycled materials is a great way to build innovation. Consider three categories as you stock your space:
- Tools: pliers, saws, rotary tools, 3D printers
- Materials: craft supplies, glue, paint, cardboard, foam core
- Electronics: LEDs, resistors, motors, and devices like Arduinos, Little Bits or MakeyMakeys
2. Be creative in your staffing. Be generous in your training
Some of the best contributions to my school’s makerspace didn’t come from a techie; they came from one of our art teacher. She got us to think about our space and materials in entirely new ways. Enthusiasm for student tinkering is by far the most important qualification for a makerspace manager. All the rest can be learned, but you have to commit some resources to help that person get up to speed.
3. Offer an elective course
Ideally, you want your makerspace to be open to all students and teachers, but many won’t have any idea of how to use it without a little structure and some concrete examples. Offering an elective class in robotics,physical computing, or wearable technology is a great way to build interest among a core group of students and to generate examples so that other teachers can begin to see uses in their own subject areas.
4. Design projects using what we already know about great student-centered classrooms.
Kids are naturally curious, but without careful project design, many of them will become frustrated and disengage. Assess what they already know, and design projects that match their interests and ability levels. Model good research and problem solving techniques for them. Coach them in self-assessment, and hold them accountable to the standards that they defined. In short, get them to own their learning!
5. Make it Public!
Students need to feel that what they are doing is real and meaningful and not simply a hoop set up by their teachers. Public display is a great way to add authenticity to a project. Display student work in a gallery or school library. Post videos and photos on a school blog. Host a Maker Day event.
Next Steps: If you are getting ready to launch a school makerspace, or you are looking for ways to make your existing space more impactful, Genesis Learning is here to help. We offer a variety of services designed to help schools build a culture of innovation.
Bare Bones STEM Kits: These turnkey “project in a box,” kits contain pre-selected, components needed to complete an electronic or robotic challenge, including a teacher guide with a detailed project plan and daily lesson plans.
Professional Development: We provide on-site training and online courses to help teachers get familiar with makerspace technologies, such as 3D printing and electronics,and to become comfortable with the project-based learning approach.
Makerspace in a Box: A comprehensive kit that Includes equipment, materials, and tools to get your makerspace off the ground.
Custom designed curricula: We provide curricula for a variety of makerspace classes including Physical Computing, Robotics and Wearable Technology. Custom-designed courses aligned to Common Core or Next Generation Science Standards are also available.
To learn more about any of these service or to download sample curriculum documents, visit us at http://www.genlrn.com/barebones
Chris Devers via Compfight