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Education - Maker Spaces

Nikola Tesla says ...

I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain, unfolding to success. Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep friends, love, everything.

How would students benefit from Maker learning...

With the unprecedented access to information that students have, educators must move forward from knowledge holders and presenters to information mentors.  Students can freely access the information necessary for most of their learning. Educators will guide students to use this information to build curriculum foundations as well as lifelong learning skills supporting curiosity and imagination.

The notion of creating STEM learners from making is a natural conclusion.  Most STEM learners are innovative and engaged in some hands-on activity.  Once all students are exposed to a maker environment, many more will follow their learning into experimentation and design.  In this way, educators will give wings to students’ curiosity.

Are all students makers? Yes.  All students have the capacity to take knowledge from most environments.  Each student should not be expected to create an innovative, never-before-seen artifact but to acquire skills and knowledge that moves their learning forward and tempts their curiosity. If a student willingly makes the makerspace a comfortable place to investigate and experiment, then, yes, all students will be makers.

Making in New Jersey

Fixed and Flexible Spaces

Most Maker spaces contain two types of stations or centers.  Along with the space being used for a big or collaborative project, students may make a habit of dropping in for a short time.  Fixed stations or centers can exist within your maker space as predictable challenges where learning happens as part of play.  Flexible stations or centers can rotate through weeks, months, seasons or interest.

Fixed stations exist in the space as unsupervised learning opportunities.  A "take-apart" station would be a great example, where students are encouraged to take apart a small appliance or computer component to find out how it works.  De-construction leads to learning.  A Lego table would also, likely, be a fixed station, where students could indulge their passion for building in short spurts of time.  Little Bits would also provide good discovery opportunities for students who lean and then mentor others.  A computer or tablet with 3D design capabilities would also be an interesting fixed station.  Design completion can be rewarded with a 3D print out.

Flexible stations are, in my opinion, creative and crafty.  The introduction of an Art Cart with various materials would be a great start. Duct tape crafts are a huge draw in the middle school grades.  Rainbow Loom bracelets and origami consistency to help them remain fresh and attractive to learners. 

Both types of centres are a great start to any maker space in a learning commons or classroom.