Makerspaces aren't new but they are gaining momentum and unless we want to be left behind we need to get on board. There are many valid reasons for setting up makerspaces in schools and libraries, not least of all the creative thinking and collaboration that happens under different challenges. STEM or STEAM activities happen in schools anyway but linking them as part of makerspace activities allows so much more freedom. It doesn't always have to be a lesson taught in a class. It can happen anywhere and for us, we have opened up the library as a makerspace during some lunchtimes. There isn't room here to talk in depth about Makerspaces, nor is this the place but I want to share what we have been doing and how it works for us.
I am not talking 3D printers here, quite simply, because at this stage we do not have any printers but it is something we will look to fund at some stage. Nor am I talking about Coding clubs as they happen in many schools already. I am talking small scale makerspaces in a school library, manageable during a lunchtime break. I am also far from an expert but what I am, is passionate and keen to give it a go.
We call our time Maker Monday's and because of time and space constraints I do limit the number of children participating. I offer each activity to a year level and eventually I will combine groups, particularly when I want older students to team up with and support younger students.
Our first event was open to year six children who created hedgehogs out of weeded library books. I was quite taken aback by the number of boys who turned up ready to fold and create. No cost and heaps of fun. Another event we had was open to year fives. It was a pipe cleaner challenge and they were asked to build the tallest structure they could, using just 14 pipe cleaners. Students were not allowed to use tape or any additional items and were not given any instructions or help. They were in teams of their choice and their willingness to work together was fantastic to see. At one point I asked them to hold a hand behind their back and at another stage they were told not talk to each other. This was based on an idea I saw in Pinterest which is a wonderful tool to use for ideas and planning.
As you can see from the photos children worked well together with some creative thinking, including one student who asked if he held both hands behind his back could his teammate have both his hands free?
No doubt we will find some things will work and others perhaps won’t but we aim to continue trying new ideas and challenges. I hope what this highlights is that makerspaces can be run on a limited budget so there really isn’t any reason not to give it a try.
We want our activities to generate creative thinking and collaboration among students and allow them to give things a go, take risks, and have a little fun along the way. Surely this can only be a good thing. Can it be done bigger and better in a classroom? Absolutely! I am limited by time and cost constraints but my point is that these students came willingly to try new things and I have been inundated with others wanting a turn. Big or small. Cheap or not so cheap, makerspaces offer children a chance to thrive.
http://library.fendalton.school.nz/?p=2102 - Movie clip of pipe cleaner challenge.