Have you heard about the Maker Movement? It’s a new approach to the classroom calling for student creativity through hands-on projects. Encouraging a constant “tinkering” mentality, the Maker Movement allows students a reprieve from standardized testing as they create, invent and learn together. New technology, such as 3D printers, robotics, wearable computing, and “smart” materials is allowing every teacher to incorporate Maker-inspired spaces into the classroom! Here are a few ways you can integrate technology to create the ideal classroom “makerspace.”
Makerspaces and Technology
There are two ways to adapt makerspaces in the classroom. You can either allow it to become a part of the already existing classroom environment, or it can be integrated as a separate entity.
Many classrooms use makerspaces as a separate lab or activity that will allow students a reprieve from book-based learning to connect to the subject material in a physical manner. Students can use makerspace technology to delve into the following content areas:
- Science: Makerspace technology, such as a 3D printer, allows for physical modeling. This can be applied through the assembly of chemical compounds, cell and bone structures, and in understanding how to analyze data.
- Technology and Engineering: Makerspace technology can open up a wide array of projects with a focus on architecture, design and manufacturing, robotics, industrial and mechanical engineering, electronics, and other engineering curricula.
- Art: Makerspace technology can also aid in modeling, photography, computer-controlled art, light and sound, and more.
- Mathematics: Makerspace technology gives students a physical representation of math concepts through the production of objects. Equations and their relationships can be physically constructed, altered and computed within the classroom.
Makerspaces can be used for a range of activities and are intended to provide opportunities for limitless creativity. For instance, a station might include cardboard construction, woodworking, electronics, robotics, digital fabrication, building kinetic machines, and textiles and sewing. Plenty of subject areas to keep a student’s mind growing.
Benefits of Makerspaces
Learning by Making.
-With such precedence on preparation for standardized testing, the makerspaces allow students to creative space as they use affordable technology to learn by doing, a more realistic approach to learning.
-Makerspaces push for a collaborative community of global problem solvers. Makers can share their designs, code, and ideas giving them extra incentive to delve into their interests in the classroom.
Focus on Design.
Designing becomes easy and risk free as students have freedom to tinker and create prototypes as they please. This deviates from the misconception that mistakes are expensive and instead encourages students to try new things and overcome personal challenges.
Learning Becomes Personal.
Makerspaces allow learning to take place inside the individual. It gives students the chance to pursue what they love, master it, and in turn, love what they learn.
4 Tips on Makerspaces in the Elementary Classroom
1. Design your makerspace: The first thing you’ll have to decide is what activities you want your stations to include. Once that’s determined, your makerspace will need to accommodate all of the tools and technology required to carry out the chosen projects.
2. Start small: You won’t be able to start out with every piece of maker technology you need for all of the projects you’ve brainstormed for students. You can, however, start with the smaller ideas and work your way up. Make sure you know the requirements of tools before you purchase them!
3. Know when makerspaces will be used: Here are a few ideas for times you can incorporate makerspaces into your classroom schedule:
- Open Lunch
- Before School
- After School
- Innovation Day
- Tinker Time (Stations)
- Family Night
4. Know how to fund your classroom transformation: Funding is also a topic of much consideration and concern as makerspace technology can be quite expensive to construct and maintain. However, every teacher can incorporate “maker-mindedness” into the classroom with enough determination and innovation. Here are some ways to get started:
- Petition to use your school’s budget
- Seek grants
- Engage with DonorsChoose.org to fund your stations
- Get the community involved in fundraising
- Search for local company sponsors
With enough persistence, you can find a way to “make” things happen. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you can start small and work your way up!