On October 1st I started on my efforts toward creating a set of Makerspaces in our school district. I immediately jumped into visiting the d.school at Stanford, collecting every book I could on the topic, and applied to attend the FabLearn conference. A Makerspace has been my goal since the first day I started as STEM Coordinator last year, so when I was recently given the flexibility and permission to move forward, I jumped on the opportunity immediately.
Now, what I’m going to lay out here is my vision, supported by numerous individuals, conference sessions, and books. I’ll include a list of resources I’ve referred to at the end. When I’m finished, I’m hoping you’ll have a good idea of what I’m doing and can give me some great feedback – be it the programs we use, companies I should reach out to, or something I need to fully rethink.
First of all, the vision and mission of the Makerspace Collaborative:
All sites will have access to a Makerspace where students can work together in developing STEM familiarity and competency through after-school 2-week Introductory (Level 1) courses and 2-4 week Advanced (Level 2+) courses, along with lunchtime clubs meeting once or twice a week. These courses and clubs will include coding, robotics, and making/design thinking.
Across all sites, at least 700 kindergarten through eighth grade students engage in Introductory (Level 1) courses in coding, robotics, and making/design thinking or lunchtime clubs per year. Engage at least 100 students per year in Advanced (Level 2+) STEM courses.
How do I plan to get there?
Students who complete all three Introductory courses will earn a badge (puzzle piece pin in lower right-hand corner) that will connect with the Advanced badges (puzzle piece pins – R(obotics), M(aking), C(oding). Advanced badges do not need to be earned consecutively or in a particular order.
The Makerspace after-school programs will run in approximately 8 week cycles, beginning with an “open house”, followed by 2 week courses in making/design thinking, coding, and robotics. The cycle will conclude with a celebration/reflection the following week.
Instruction for courses will come from:
- Coding – Code.org, Tynker, Kodable, Turtle Art
- Robotics – Lego WeDo, Lego Mindstorms, Thymio
- Making/Design Thinking – Institute of Design at Stanford, Make Education Initiative, RAFT, FabLab@School
Lunchtime clubs will be for students in all grades and there will likely be some overlap with nearby grades. Clubs will all be student choice and may include Legos, 3D printing, e-textiles, video production, Scratch, or whatever kind of making they’d like!
Open House – January 7-10th
Making/Design Thinking Level 1 course – Jan 13-24th
Coding Level 1 course – Jan 27th-Feb 7th
Robotics Level 1 course – Feb 11-28th
Celebration/Reflection – Evening in week of March 3rd
2013-2014: Build Makerspace and create pilot introductory and extended STEM opportunities at one site, supporting students from that site and other nearby campuses.
2014-2015: Implement full introductory and extended STEM opportunities at first site. Build Makerspaces and pilot introductory and extended STEM opportunities at two other school sites.
2015-2016: Full introductory and extended STEM opportunities across first three school sites. Build Makerspaces and pilot introductory and extended STEM opportunities at all remaining school sites.
2016-2017: Full introductory and extended STEM opportunities across all school sites.
While I am going to run the pilot Makerspace this year to work out all the kinks and make it as powerful as possible, my goal is to recruit Maker Corps or some other Americorps organization to staff each Makerspace in future years. Eventually, this funding will come from within the district, though at this point we will rely on outside support, along with all the materials for students to use.
What will the Makerspace look like? Well, I’ve created this mock-up of the room in reset mode and one way it can look while in use.
But, to be honest, that’s a huge dream. Right now the room looks like this:
I’ll be shopping around for support, that’s for sure, but even without any additional support I’m still going to open up the Makerspace by January. As Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager say in Invent To Learn, “We owe it to our students to close the digital divide immediately and offer expanded learning opportunities.” I have a box of Legos, a few old MacBooks, and a brand-new Thymio robot (you can find it at Techykids.com). I can also pick up a button-making kit easily from a craft store in order to make cheap pins. Just that, along with the right prompts and support for the students, is all that’s really necessary. Everything else will just help make it more powerful and give students multiple entry points and materials for creating.
All of this work has come together after a lot of reading, listening, and observing. Here’s what I’ve done so far and what I plan to do before opening the first space:
Make Space by Scott Doorley & Scott Witthoft
Invent To Learn by Sylvia Martinez & Gary Stager, Ph.D.
Makerspace Playbook: School Edition by Makerspace.com
Young Makers Maker Club Playbook by YoungMakers.org
The Maker Movement Manifesto by Mark Hatch
Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner
Don Orth & Christa Flores – Hillbrook School’s iLab
Heather Allen Pang, Angi Chau, and Diego Fonstad – Castilleja School’s Bourn Idea Lab
Nate Rinaker & David Malpica – Bullis Charter School
Aaron Vanderwerff – Lighthouse Community Charter School
Christine Mytko – Black Pine Circle School
Amy Shelley & Katie Kinnaman - Garner Bullis School
I’ve also talked to or hope to talk to the Maker Education Initiative, RAFT (Resource Area For Teaching), TechShop Menlo Park, Watsonville Science Workshop, TechyKids.com, FabLab@School, d.School at Stanford, The Tech Museum, Recology, Menlo School, and as many other teachers/makers/companies/schools/organizations as possible.
Any thoughts? Suggestions? Am I completely missing something?