I’ve had the awesome opportunity this year to create and work in a makerspace. To me, it’s been the ideal learning environment that I’ve always imagined for kids (and wish I’d had when I was one)! It’s ideal because it incorporates what I think kids should be doing at their age…exploring and playing!
Wondering What a Makerspace Is?
Think of it as shop class making a comeback. Or as a science lab. Or as an art studio. Or a technology lab. In fact, think of it as all of these things, a space to ideate, design, and create. And it’s not just for kids. The maker movement is a modern day Renaissance that has been picking up momentum with people of all ages in the past decade. You can learn more about it here. For adults, it appeals to DIY culture because it is based on the sharing of ideas, tools, and technology. In schools, it tends to serve as a platform for STEAM education, the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.
It all began with a dank old storage space that used to drive me nuts. A dumping ground for teachers to get rid of old books and furniture. I used to go in there and think about all its potential. After all, it was rare to find a corner room with a cross-breeze.
The idea of creating a STEM Lab in the space came to me about two years ago when my principal suggested we start becoming more purposeful in preparing our students for a future in STEM-related careers. We would never be able to budget for such an endeavor in our cash-strapped system, but I truly believe that putting the idea out into the universe opened the gates for our vision to come to fruition.
Last year, Wells Fargo and City Year gifted Sheridan with a complete makeover, including murals, a playground, and a spruced-up teacher’s lounge. The teams also decided to make the STEM Lab a reality. As I began researching ideas for the room, I realized that my vision was actually a makerspace, a term I’d never heard prior. I met with Wells Fargo several times to articulate the idea, but they created a space that was better than I had ever imagined. With bright walls, flexible seating, and a 3D printer, the room truly sparks the creative genius of our children. The excitement when they enter the room is palpable.
Since then, we’ve been able to get more funding to purchase flexible seating options, a small library of reading materials, Makey Makey and Bloxels kits, and basic crafting supplies. I can’t wait to see what the future holds, and I am always looking for advice and ideas on how to improve, so I invite you to comment, contact me and subscribe to my email list. Thanks!