At the beginning of this school year, I found myself working next to an empty classroom. I thought, “Hey, now we can spread out a bit more during Robotics Club meetings.”
In the meantime, I had been reading about the surge of Maker Spaces in libraries and schools.
I decided to move the gigantic executive desk I had inherited into the empty room to make more space in my classroom. I thought, “Now that the top of that desk is cleared off, it looks like a great space to spread out a fun art project.”
I kept reading about Maker Spaces.
I’m not exactly sure when the idea hit me – probably in the middle of a Tae Bo workout, the usual time I get inspired. Finally, I thought, “What if I make that empty room into a Maker Space?”
There’s not really a rule or blueprint for Maker Spaces. Some are heavy on technology, with 3-D printers and such. While others seem to lean more toward craft-type making, such as sewing. The common thread, so to speak, seems to be that they are all designed with the idea that people need an inspirational place to create. And, now, with so many requirements for what students must know, many feel we should offer them some outlets for their imagination.
When my students participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge near the beginning of the school year, I saw how completely engaged they were in “making.” I knew I needed to reproduce that experience as often as possible.
Our PTA offers a grant to teachers. I applied for some money for some materials for our Maker Space: Little Bits, Cubelets, Roominate, Goldiblox, Squishy Circuits, and Play-i. We have a Green Screen and iPads (hoping to add a tripod and green screen software or app at some point). In addition, I had already bought a 3Doodler with my own money, and we have a proposal for a 3D printer on Donors Choose (not going well, so any donations greatly appreciated!).
My goal is to make this a place for the students – and not just my GT students. So, in my proposal I suggested that my students would pilot the space this semester. Next Fall, I will start a “Maker Club.” And, hopefully, we will open the room for teachers to sign up their classes to visit.
The students voted on the name for the space. They eventually settled on B.O.S.S. HQ. That stands for “Building of Super Stuff HeadQuarters”, for those of you who have a hard time translating Elementary GT-speak ;)
This week was our “soft” opening. We started with the Little Bits center. I explained to the students that we are piloting this idea, and I’m not sure how it’s going to go. One of the 3rd graders said, “So, we’re beta testing it?” We’ve been doing that with some apps lately, and I guess the idea fits!
In my room, students “Level Up” for privileges. Maker Studio is Level 3. And not everyone has made it there, yet. But you can bet there are going to be some fast risers in the next couple of weeks now that they’ve seen what’s in store for them!
By the time I left school today, 2 of my 4th graders had already shared their blog post with me on Google Docs about class today.
It concluded with, “Today in G.T was a good day to show the creative side of yourself.”
That pretty much said it all.
Here are a couple of resources about Maker Spaces if you are interested: Invent to Learn, Making a Makerspace, Making a Makerspace (Almost Finished), Maker Education: A Good Trend. I also have a very new Pinterest Board on the topic.