When You Introduce Makerspaces in Schools, the Possibilities are Endless
Makerspaces are a growing trend in schools that allow students to design, create and learn. It’s a hand on experience that not only teaches, but is fun for students. In the Hopewell Area School District in Pennsylvania, after makerspaces were created and implemented in the schools, the Demco Maker Collection with Challenge Guide was introduced to the elementary schools. The variety of activities and resources gave the kids a whole new breadth of learning possibilities – with amazing results.
The Demco Maker Collection with Challenge Guide is a Collection of tools that allow kids to challenge themselves in subjects like robotics, coding, circuitry, design, arts and more. Conveniently, the Challenge Guide allowed the ability for teachers to provide guidance and the option for instruction as well. Teachers can select materials, choose different lessons and implement making instantly. The Challenge guide also contained student guides that are well structured and include opportunities for the students to write and reflect on the things they are making – supporting both literacy and maker skills.
The challenges in the guide inspire students to assess the important components of the design-thinking process. Students are challenged to brainstorm, design, seek feedback and self-evaluate. While working on the challenges, students see that their written plans and revisions are an important part of the design process.
In the Hopewell Area School District, students used a variery of tools in addition to their guides to challenge themselves in the makerspaces. Whether it was constructing a maze for their meeperBOT to navigate through, building stuctures with Strawbees®, learning about circuitry with Snap Circuits® or engineering with littleBits™, the students had to think creatively and solve problems to successfully accomplish their tasks.
As the students worked on their projects, several outcomes were observed by their teachers. One observation was that the students didn’t let initial challenge restrictions hinder the outcome they were trying to achieve. For instance, one Hopewell teacher said “I was surprised at the way they combined materials, not limiting their solutions to the initial materials they were given. I love when they stretch their imagination in that way.”
Another observation noted was that the students were more likely to collaborate with other groups, in addition to the one they were assigned. The kids were so focused and interested in the tasks at hand that they were consulting other classmates to help achieve desired results. They were coming together to work as a bigger team than just the group they were given.
Teachers realized another important observation - students were genuinely interested in how things worked, and what they needed to do to accomplish their goals. This hands-on experience not only teaches kids inside the classroom, but its great learning for outside of the classroom as well. Students learn important lessons such as persistence, flexibility, drive and patience.
One of the most important lessons students took away from the introduction of makerspaces and the Demco Collection was that they built a confidence within themselves. As they learned skills and accomplished goals, they began to realize and believe that they would be able to tackle larger, more complex problems. Teachers were also pleased to see that students who were normally quiet and reserved ended up being the leaders in their respective groups. Students were becoming inventors, designers and engineers right before their very eyes, and that’s an incredibly inspiring thing for any educator.
Story via Demco