What is the idea behind Makerspaces?
For me, makerspaces help us develop the 4Cs in our students: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking and Creativity and this can be achieved by giving the students a space and/or material to tinker with. In this design process, students brainstorm, imagine, prototype, iterate, create and reflect. They learn how to put their thinking into action, how to bounced back if we “fail” and also, how to develop a real understanding of technologies, craft and electronics through a hands-on approach.
What do student work with?
In the Makerspace I lead, students work on basic circuitry with LEDs, motors, buzzers and other components. In preschool, we start with “Squishy circuits”, then we do paper circuits (Chibitronics, paper circuits with LEDs, with conductive ink, with Makey-Makey, LittleBits) and finally we move to electronics with Arduino and RaspberryPi for instance where the circuits is connected to a computer and we write the code. We also love to connect electronics with textiles using Adafruit Flora and Lilypad to create wearable technology!
We use Scratch Jr and Scratch MIT, Code.org, Code Academy, and more… to self-pace students’ learning about coding. We do celebrate the Hour of Code and Computer Science Week to spark interests in this area. We keep plenty of resources ready to be implemented:
How to set up a Makerspace?
In this thinglink, I share a few tips about what is necessary in a makerspace:
My favorite books about the maker movement are “The Art of Tinkering” by the Exploratorium and the wonderful “Invent to Learn” by Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary Stager. Those books are not about buying the latest gadgets, it’s all about the love for creation, iteration, and the mindset we want our students to develop.
We integrate robotics using Beebots and Bluebots in Preschool and PYP1-2, Dash and Dot in PYP1-PYP5, Sphero SPRK+ in PYP4-MYP5 and Lego EV3 in MYP1-MYP5. In DP, if students take ITGS, they can explore EV3 as well.
This space is used during the Makerspace Club and Maker Mornings! We also encourage teachers and their students to integrate Maker activities into their lesson. They can visit the space to work on a project or the space come to their classroom!
We have decided to modify and adapt the Design Cycle to better focus on making and doing. Therefore, we start with exploring and investigating, then we prototype and iterate and finally we reflect and “unbuild”.
We try to have a welcoming and flexible space to engage and empower students in their discovery and in building their inventions. Therefore we have chairs with wheel, tables that can be moved, a projector and a computer for research, coding, video-making computational thinking, whiteboard film on tables to help plan, design wall, lego wall, cupboards with material organized and stored.
Our fist Maker Workshop comprised of over 10 activities for teachers to explore. You can find all the directions here. We placed a QR code to the activity Googledoc on each table and teachers worked in groups of 6-7. The activities comprised of:
- Computational Thinking
- Paper Circuits
- LittleBits, Snapcircuits, Squishy circuits
- Making with cardboard
Teachers making during the Maker Fair 2016:
Integration of Maker Space into the Curriculum
The Maker Space is a practical application of “STEAM” = Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics. It is easy to integrate those subjects but we still want to integrate other ones as we believe the Maker Movement’s concept, pedagogy and ideas can transform classrooms and are not limited to certain subjects.
We just revamped our MYP Design Scope and Sequence to integrate the Makerspace into the Design curriculum. We now offer both Digital and Product Design!
The PYP is also developing its ICT Scope and Sequence (yes, the International Baccalaureate still uses the term “ICT”…. no comment) to integrate the Makerspace into the curriculum.
Agreements on how to use the Maker Space
Finally, a successful implementation of maker activities also lies in setting up agreements to remain safe and responsible. This is our essential agreement document: