Wednesday , 13 December 2017
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Makerspaces: Not Just for Kids

makeymakey1Think for a moment: In what part of your school building are children most engaged and actively initiating their own learning? What is it about this space that cultivates curiosity and is trademarked by innovation?

What if there was a space designed to allow for students to make, invent, reinvent, hack, design, create, manufacture, develop, collaborate, produce, construct, and tinker?  This is known as a makerspace.  “Makerspaces come in all shapes and sizes, but they all serve as a gathering point for tools, projects, mentors, and expertise. A collection of tools doesn’t define the space; rather, we define it by what it enables: making.”   It is through this ‘experimental play’ students develop and deepen critical thinking skills, and more importantly that failure is the pathway to success.  So, what does it take to start a makerspace?  The answer is simple: stuff and a few safety guidelines.

What I learned about hosting a makerspace teacher expo:

  • Communicating an idea of reuse, repurpose, recycle in contrast to waste is key
  • Clearly identifying safety guidelines (example: don’t mess with the capacitors)
  • Students love to learn and are innately curious when given freedom to explore
  • Teachers love to play just as much as students
  • There is something powerful in tying skills and disciplines together to achieve a goal
  • Food is universal

makeymakey2A few of the stations that were available included: making omelets in a ziploc bag with choice toppings, a table with random scrap electronics, a makey-makey, random objects with objective of building an extreme nanobot obstacle course, a box of kinects, a lego car parts, a bunch of circuits, a sewing machine, and an EV3 robot.

For more information on how to set-up a Makerspace, check out the following resources:

  1. MakerSpace Playbook
  2. Educational Philosophy Behind MakerSpaces
  3. Sample Flyer for Teacher Expo

Submitted by Jessica Luby, Instructional Assistant Principal – Newton-Conover High School and Newton-Conover Middle School

About Heather Mullins

Heather Mullins is the Chief Academic Officer in Newton-Conover City Schools. She is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow who spent 12 years as a high school English Teacher. She received her B.S.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Western Carolina University. Heather completed her National Board Certification in Adolescent Young Adult English Language Arts in 2002. She holds an M.Ed. in Academically and Intellectually Gifted from UNC-Charlotte. Heather has served as a Curriculum Specialist in Hickory City Schools, an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University, and a Professional Development Consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership through Western Carolina University. Heather is one of the co-founders of #NCed Chat, North Carolina’s first Twitter chat for teachers. She is passionate about innovative practices, instructional technology, student ownership of learning, and supporting teachers. Heather serves on the advisory board for the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, North Carolina School for the Deaf and Catawba Science Center. She is a recipient of the 2015 NCMLE Central Office Administrator to Watch Award. She also received the 2016 Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership. Heather is the proud mother of one son, Jackson.

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