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Does my school need a Makerspace?

Makerspaces are communities of practice constructed in a physical place set aside for a group of people to use it as a core part of their practice, a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools. These spaces are open to kids, adults, and entrepreneurs and have a variety of maker equipment including 3D printers, laser cutters, soldering irons and even sewing machines.

Experts state that a maker class experience at school provides a wealth of opportunities for students, but how can you determine if a makerspace is needed at your school? How eventually can be integrated in your school?

Mentioned below are some tips which might help you.

Step number one: let’s determine if a makerspace is needed at your school

Here below some simple questions to answer, elaborated by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, the organisation leader in the promotion of creativity and the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of education.

  1. Does failure slow or stop creativity in students?
  2. Could students expand their perspectives by learning about expression and unique learning styles?
  3. Can we improve real-world applications of classroom lessons to strengthen comprehension?
  4. How would more hands-on learning benefit curiosity and innovation?
  5. Can we increase exposure to the 21st century skills needed for success?

If you answered yes to all the questions, a makerspace can provide the opportunities you are looking for to enhance learning at your school[1].

Step number two: let’s figure out which strategy can be used to implement makerspace at your school

Two types of strategy are suggested.

  1. A makerspace can be integrated directly into a classroom setting or it can be established in a dedicated location. Regardless of where the space is located, the key is creating a space that provides opportunities for: collaboration, learning, sharing, testing, questioning, experimenting and innovating.
  2. If you don’t have funds for that, you can simply ask to a makerspace that is in near your area.

For insight on how a makerspace can be established at school, read the entire article “Does My School Need a Makerspace?” on Invent official website.

[1] National Inventorts Hall of Fame, Article: “Does My School Need a Makerspace?”, www.invent.org/blog/trends-stem/establish-makerspace-school

Furthermore Concordia University in Portland (Oregon) suggests 5 steps to cerate a maker space for your school:

Step 1 – Get Started: Study Up + Network

You can start reviewing a few reading materials as a point of reference and connecting to the myriad of like-minded educators across your country and beyond. There are a lot of passionate teachers that share online suggestions, resources and free lessons for  maker based activities. sharing their ideas and advice. You can use social media as Telegram, facebook or Youtube, to find relevant supporting materials.

Step 2 – Getting Stuff for Your Makerspace: Bring the Outside World In

Start filling in a supply material list. In order to cover the expenses for supply materials you can ask companies, organisations and any other potential stakeholder (including parents) to provide it for free. Makerspaces can use almost everything from metal scraps to waste material.  Ask your community for help through face to face meetings or posts on social media.  Invite local professionals to help kids create their project (i.e. an electrician to build a light-up circuit, or bring in a construction expert to help design the perfect tiny house).

Step 3 – Find Space + Time: Turn Any Space into a Makerspace and Give Kids Time to Explore

Any space can be used for basic steam-based projects (i.e. libraries, school classrooms and cafes). You could adapt the activities to the available spaces and let the students explore it.

Step 4 – Make it Work: Start a Design Challenge Practice

To organise regular maker-based design challenges is a good practice to improve interest and involvement. They can be schoolwide, grade-wide, or classroom-based, and work well when both competitive or merely for learning. The goal is to get students engaged in design thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving. To keep the maker culture alive with regular participation, use the element of surprise by announcing “Drop Everything & Make” challenges or create a design challenge schedule for the year.

Step 5 – Make It Last: Get Creative with the Curriculum

Maker education should connect to classroom learning. Consider ways to incorporate maker projects into your everyday unit and lesson plans, as well as long-term projects. This makes the school subjects more relevant and connected to the real world. However, embedding maker culture into curriculum learning creates a long-term practice with measurable outcomes. To make it work, guide students toward identifying and understanding learning targets and then engage them in self-reflection and revision—just like real innovators.

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