In the spring of 2016, the U.S. Department of Education had issued a challenge to all high schools in the nation: Design a makerspace that will strengthen next generation career and technical skills. Winners will receive $20,000 in cash and prizes for their design based on the following criteria
- Addressing need
Makerspaces are an integral part of the future of education. It is not an educational short-lived hype. This challenge marks the importance of how we need to enhance the current educational institution. Makerspaces provide students with materials and an environment to create, invent, tinker, and explore. It builds collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, and communication.
Our district Vision statement reads:
“Every student acquires the skills and knowledge to succeed. “
Our district Mission statement reads:
“…To provide high quality instruction to every student within a positive environment reflective of our community needs.”
Our district Instruction statement reads:
Our instructional programs must meet the varying needs of all students and prepare them for successful futures as productive citizens in the 21st century.
I believe a makerspace will complement our existing programs and provide students with an enhanced educational experience that will meet and exceed these district goals.
There are some legitimate concerns that should be addressed. Who would be the makerspace facilitator? When can we offer a makerspace in our schedule? Where can we have the makerspace? What is the cost?
A makerspace can be any location in the school. Other high schools use their library as a makerspace. It is usually easily accessible and known to most students. It is large enough to accommodate materials, and tools, but not require a large section of the library. There are existing tables, chairs, and computers that could be utilized.
Depending on the makerspace focus, the facilitator can be any individual interested in the makerspace. Staff members would be ideal, but community members could volunteer their time, efforts, and expertise to the makerspace. It would be ideal to have several projects going on at the same time throughout the school year. But we can be flexible and accommodate need and interest.
The makerspace would not have to be a single class period in the existing schedule. Teachers could use the makerspace during their class if they wish. There would be a calendar available to schedule use of the makerspace to avoid conflict with other teachers. Other options would be to utilize the makerpace before school, during lunch, and after school certain times of the week. These times outside regular school hours would need special consideration and approval.
Our high school currently has a wide variety of materials and tools available to have a makerspace. Makerspace.com has provided a PDF document that we could use as a resource to determine appropriate materials for a range of makerspaces such as textiles, electronics, computers, 3D printing, and general makerspace. It would not be necessary to provide all materials and tools to begin. Each school year can focus on a separate type of makerspace determined by student interest, need, and available resources. Partnerships with local businesses and industries can help offset costs if materials needed to be purchased.
There are, of course, other legitimate questions that can be addressed, but these are several that I believe would surface right away. The benefits of having and using a makerspace goes beyond regular services we provide students. It can change lives. View this video to see one high schools’ success with a makerspace…
U.S. Department of Education CTE Makeover Challenge. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.ctemakeoverchallenge.com/
High School Makerspace Tools and Materials. (2012). Makerspace. [PDF] Retrieved from http://makered.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Makerspace-High-School-Makerspace-Tools-And-Materials-April-2012.pdf
Martinez, Sylvia Libow; Stager, Gary S.. Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom (Kindle). Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.
CBS New York. (2014). New Jersey High School Getting Creative with Makerspace. . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZE8nCABAX4