When done correctly a well facilitated makerspace can teach math, science, design, and those evasive skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration through one larger unit. One well designed Problem Based unit can tick of 20 or more standards while at the same time ENGAGING students in their own learning. Makerspaces do not work well in a normal lecture format classroom. Maker education has its roots in the teaching of Piaget and Dewey. Where hands on authentic learning experiences through real world inquiry. The Maker Movement and education fit together like peanut butter and jelly.
So why the library? Why not take the old empty space formerly used as the shop to create a makerspace? What's that old saying "Out of sight, out of mind". In most school buildings the library is the focal point of the school building. If we create and interactive space designed for learning why would we place it in the farthest room in the entire building. The library is the heart of the school and by restructuring the space to be more collaborative friendly you open up the space for making*.
When you involve teacher collaborators as well as ask for student input you not only have a library you are working on creating a school learning commons. (Which contains a Makerspace)
But is the hype worth it? if done correctly yes. If you have administration buy in, student buy in, and teacher collaborators on your side makerspaces can be phenomenal areas of learning and growth. However, on the flip side of the coin if one simply purchases STEM kits, or a 3D printer with little to no instructional time, or buy in from any of the previously mentioned you may have a harder sell.
In order to have a successfully makerspace student must be empowered to make decisions, ask questions, and be held accountable for their own education. This type of educational mindset also allows students that do not thrive in traditional classroom setting a chance to shine. For those students who are kinetic learners, who need to understand the why before the how makerspace are eye opening experiences.
Like all things in education the success of failure of a space / curriculum / teaching strategy is directly connected to the level of investment put into it. Creating a makerspace is easy, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, tape, cardboard....etc. Creating a learning environment that challenges students to push the bounds of their current knowledge, forces them to think critically about real world problems, collaborate with others is a little harder. But in my opinion, worth it.
*For the purpose of this blog post making encompasses everything from writing fanfiction, cooking, quilting, electronics, etc. if you are physically making something it counts.
Graves, C. (2015, July 22). Building Curriculum Connections Into Makerspaces Retrieved May 11, 2017, from https://colleengraves.org/
Rendina, D. (2015). Building curriculum connections into makerspaces. Renovated Learning. Retrieved from http://renovatedlearning.com/2015/07/22/building-curriculum-connections-into-makerspaces/
Watson, A. (2017). Curious about classroom makerspaces? Here’s how to get started. Cornerstone for Teachers. Retrieved from https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/makerspaces/