You’ve probably heard the word thrown around in certain circles. People casually dropping the catchy word, MakerSpace, like it’s no big deal. You smile and nod but don’t really know what they’re talking about. It sounds fun and STEM-like but it sounds a little intimidating.
So what IS all this buzz about a MakerSpace?
A MakerSpace is just what it sounds like...a SPACE to MAKE! Makerspaces provide students with the opportunity to create, learn, invent and make, using a variety of different resources. From Legos to robots, straws to 3D printers, the sky's the limit when it comes to innovation. And even with tight budgets - scrappy DTLs and teachers have found great ways to include some incredible resources.
So you might be wondering, “How does that work in a school?”
Keri Douglas is the DTL at Deane Elementary School located in Lakewood, CO. She got her MakerSpace up and running in the library this year. She’s a rookie, too, so hopefully her journey can inspire you, as you embark down the MakerSpace road.
what sparked your makerspace curiosity?
I took a Maker Culture class through CU Denver a few years ago while completing a Masters. A seed was planted as this was the first time I had heard about MakerSpace. I went to a MakerFaire at Denver Museum of Nature and Science with my sons and was so inspired. The whole idea was overwhelming, so I did not begin to act on it for 2 years.
How does the MakerSpace work at Deane?
We've been a PLC school for years and have had trouble with substitutes. We have used several models and schedules that weren't as effective as we'd hoped. Our leadership team was brainstorming last year, and we came up with using our talents/resources from within. The amazing library para/IT specialist, Amos Baca, and I created a MakerSpace as part of that solution. We are a great team as we see the same vision for students engaged in STEM activities. Students come once a month to the MakerSpace in the library to do STEM activities and MakerSpace challenges while their teachers are in PLCs.
How did you get started?
I have been saving Book Fair money for a few years. I started there. I tried to focus on what resources we already had and started small. We knew we wanted a LEGO wall, so that's where we focused the bulk of our monies. We also had a LEGO drive and collected pieces from our community through Facebook and my neighborhood website. We partnered with the Lakewood Faith Coalition and they have been helping with Legos also.
I got rid of our “lookup station” and it is now a workstation. I purchased stools and got rid of the bulky chairs. I purchased bins for supplies. We purchased inexpensive consumables: duct tape, straws, plastic cups, pipe cleaners, washi tape, origami paper, binder clips, paper roller coaster templates, craft sticks, clothes pins, and books for ideas (LEGO creations, Easy Origami ideas, Duct tape ideas). We also purchased some TinkerToys, Snap Circuits, and Spheros. Every activity has challenge cards so there is a focus and purpose.
For our official KickOff, we had a MakerFaire instead of a Book Fair for two nights during conferences. Families loved it and stayed for hours. They are now coming back to volunteer on their child’s STEM/MakerSpace time.
Teachers can now use the MakerSpace for their science and social studies lessons. I collaborated with a 6th grade teacher who used the MakerSpace for students to create a student-chosen project that represented the theme of an independent book. It was exciting!
What advice do you have for those wanting to dip their toes into the Makerspace world?
Start with what you have and build up. I gathered materials and money for awhile before I actually started to implement. I was able to easily find ideas online, Twitter and on Pinterest. They inspired me for lessons and supplies. I also have a purpose and/or challenge for each activity.
What resources can you share with others?
I could not find task/challenge cards that I liked so I made my own.
I follow on Twitter: @DianaLRendina, @Makerspaces_com, @gravescolleen.
I love Pinterest!
There are many DTLs in Jeffco already immersed in MakerSpaces. This is just one tale of greatness happening out in our schools. So whether you’re already swimming in the deep end of the MakerSpace pool or just dipping your toes in at the shallow end, keep up the great innovation. Our students are learning from you!
How does the MakerSpace work in your school? Comment below! We’d love to hear your ideas!