Making Maker

So what exactly is going on with the lower school Makerspace and Tech lab? The newly reimagined Makerspace at the lower school is not just a place that houses a bunch of equipment (really cool equipment, no less), but a way for students to get hands-on and bring their learning to life.

Makerspaces are being added to schools across the country, and for good reason. They promote hands-on, kinesthetic, active learning, help in the development of critical thinking skills and the problem solving process, and allow for differentiated and engaged learning. The lower school makerspace is still a work in progress and continuing to grow, but it is already allowing students to use a variety of tools to engage and apply their learning in an organic way.

Take a look at our newly added laser cutter at work on a 3rd grade project. 

3rd grade students have recently been learning about maps, direction, etc., and the focus one particular day was on the compass rose. Not just as an element on a map, but how the design of a compass rose can be considered an art form. This is where their project came to life. Each student was able to research compass roses and create their own unique compass rose design. They visited the new Makerspace to scan, size, and engrave their work into wood. Cool, right?!

Maker is truly NOT a place; it is a method of teaching. A MINDSET. It is the “Wouldn’t it be cool if the students could________.” moments and then giving the students the opportunity to MAKE it happen. Makerspace is the workshop, but maker is the mindset. It may not always turn out like we envision, which is totally okay. Sometimes it turns out even better! It is a way for students of all ages to move through to the highest levels of thinking and let their imagination, problem solving skills, and the use of tools make learning come to life.

Several years ago, while teaching the elements of plot and how events in the story affect the character traits of the characters, I explained to my students about a Disney ride (I think it was Pirates of the Caribbean). We talked about how as you travel in your little boat through the ride, you can follow the events of the story as you go. We related every single element of plot to a part of a rollercoaster, all the way down to the engine room. They loved the “plot roller coaster” and it became one of my absolute favorite standards to teach. Then, I had the absolute craziest idea! (My team seriously thought I had lost my mind.) Wouldn’t it be cool if the students could build their own life-size version of the plot roller coaster that tells the story of the novel they are studying?!?! (No joke, no sugar plums dancing, but I had visions of cardboard carts the kids could sit in, student made mural sized illustrations, student recorded sound effects and narration, the whole-nine-yards) I am being completely honest when I say that my absolutely crazy, elaborate idea did not come completely to life, but what did happen was absolutely MAKER, and learning magic. 4ft pieces of bulletin board paper became illustrations for key events in the plot, the 6th grade hallway became their rollercoaster, and they led other grade levels (walking, no cardboard carts, unfortunately) down the hallway giving them a tour and explaining how events connected, how they impacted the characters, and making this teacher’s heart so happy! They made their learning come to life! It came to life for them, and they helped make it come to life for other students, as well.

I shared this story to ask:

What is your “wouldn’t it be cool” idea?

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