I don’t use this space very often these days (too busy doing to write!) but I thought I would share my experience designing, preparing and executing our Makerspace Fortnight in our school library.
This isn’t a post explaining what a makerspace is (search on Pinterest for lots of results), but the reason why I decided we need a makerspace was quite simple: our school identified intrinsic motivation, curiosity and higher-order thinking as areas generally lacking in our students. I can change my classes, but as Teacher Librarian, I am also in a position to reach a range of students. I have read about beautiful makerspaces in the School Library Journal, an American publication with no peer in Australia, and seen this concept thrown about, but I could not find people doing makerspaces with a small budget that was not simply craft but also not so technical I couldn’t run it! I wanted to make sure I ran activities that hit all areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths). I did a lot of pinning and planning and was also fortunate enough to go to the Creating Future Libraries conference held every October in Brisbane (I wish I went this year, the theme was makerspaces!).
- What would my activities look like?
- What would the timetable for the makerspace look like?
I decided I wanted set stations that were present every day. I would also add mystery box challenges (think Masterchef) for students to complete a couple of times per week. I assessed materials we had (index cards, glue, scissors, coloured paper, rubber bands, plastic cups, etc. etc.) and what we needed (drinking straws, marbles, toys to animate, origami paper, electronics to pull apart, prizes).
After a shout-out to Heads of Department, I received enthusiastic responses but no one who volunteered time or resources (our school has a 3D printer that was offered, but no one who knows how to use it anymore!). I tell a lie, our IT Head volunteered time to do an Adobe Slate and an Arduino workshop, but these were largely run by him with student assistance. This isn’t terrible, but I really wanted to focus on student-led activities. He also had some great tech kits, but we couldn’t find students willing to have a play and then wanting to share their findings (even in an informal setting).
I also wanted to try and make the spirit of the makerspace inclusive to other faculties, so I lined up our extension students to do a “Write a Book in a Day” activity to start off the makerspace and include skills they had learnt in English and Art. I will do a separate post on WABIAD.
The timetable ended up looking like this:
As I’m heading into Thursday of Week 5, I can honestly say that we have had to change a couple of things. Our second mystery box challenge will be postponed until Friday as our Teacher Aide has been away all week. Between the traffic to the makerspace and the hot days motivating students to come and keep cool, we have been VERY busy. Tomorrow I will be alone and won’t be able to run the activity, teach two English classes, make sure teachers and their classes have everything they need in this busy assignment time and anything else the day throws at me, so the mystery box challenge is getting postponed a day.
Students discovering how old laptops work at the Tinker Table.
Tomorrow I will post about our first mystery box challenge. During this series, I will also post about our permanent stations, our students’ responses to the space and my reflections on the whole experience.