A reflection on the possibilities for students if their school had a makerspace

Examining the pedagogy of makerspaces this week helped me to understand some of the benefits for educational use of makerspaces; it also made clear some of the obstacles that schools would need to address, even beyond just the funding needed to start an educational makerspace.  The challenge for schools is to NOT absorb the concept of a makerspace into their current infrastructure and to continue making class projects as an extension of an already established lesson.  I think the potential exists for the makerspace to shift the way that teaching and learning occurs and for students AND teachers to learn by making, tinkering, and collaborating to solve problems.  It might require a transition before all classrooms can become makerspaces.  It may be that when big ideas and questions come up in the classroom, students are then able to use the makerspace to explore, answer questions, and find solutions to bring back to the class.  Schools are ruled by logistics and organization, so our first instinct is to create rules, procedures, and to address liability concerns.  This was evident in our twitter session, when we were asked what tools and materials would be in our makerspace, most of us responded with concerns about safety and ability to use tools properly.   I commented on @scottroleff’s blog that teachers would need to adapt the makerspace concept to their school’s own unique needs and resources.  However, a school makerspace could be an ideal place for projects across grade levels and content areas and bring students and teachers together around similar interests.

@scottroleff wrote an inspirational blog this week about the potential for school makerspaces.  I shared similar thoughts about how makerspaces could inspire students and connect them to ideas or content that can become a lifelong passion or lead them to a  related meaningful career.  @scottroleff’s framing of a makerspace pedagogy highlighted its benefits very well – personalized education, students initiating their own learning process, teachers guiding student inquiry, individual creations stemming from student interests, hard play, setbacks and iterations leading to new approaches and solutions, and projects that grow and improve over time as students create, refine, and aim for the most excellent form of their creations (or be inspired to expand on another student’s design).

I shared an article (http://www.wired.com/2015/05/inside-ilm/) about George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) company  when they were dreaming up the cinematography of the Star Wars movies.  The ideas and concepts in the script were far ahead of the technology at the time and the creative team literally had to tinker and make the scenes come to life through many trials and iterations.

@jnyboy1131 shared that he has an exciting opportunity to possibly start a makerspace at his school and I encouraged him to use his club planning document and proposal in this course to present the idea to his school administration.  It’s exciting to see the immediate connection of what we are exploring in this course and I also recommended that he visit the resources and activities that will be used in Google’s MakerCamp this summer (http://makercamp.com).  I’m planning to have my nieces and nephew participate in the camp with some of their friends this summer as I learn more about making and supporting makerspaces.

@K146FM captured how I feel about makerspaces with her likening it to an inventor’s workshop; one of the benefits I pointed out was that students can begin to see themselves differently when they are able to make objects to demonstrate their ideas and explore their curiosities.  I think this is important because it creates an immediate context for the content which can be shared across a wide range of topics and between and among students of varying grade and skill levels.  Again it brings this interesting challenge of a completely different model into schools which is more flexible and informal, which teachers will need to adjust or adapt into their teaching practice.

@cherbabes wrote about starting out with a smaller makerspace and growing it as she learns more about how to support it through her teaching.  I commented that students might need a transition to this model of learning that is completely different from the rest of their school environment and that parents and other community members that are makers, would be an important resource for her to include in her makerspace.

Having thought about makerspaces a lot of the past couple of weeks through this and the #uasrobotics course, I’m starting to learn more about how important they are in various businesses and industries involving product research, design, and development.  It’s interesting to be thinking about makerspaces in an educational context because it would really shake up the way “things are done” in a school and it remains to be seen if they become absorbed into a typical school model or if they can be integrated and still operate on the pedagogy we have been discussing this week.

Any thoughts, feelings, opinions, suggestions?

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