Thursday, April 14, 2016


We have an obligation to introduce children to things they don't yet know they love."
"How do we make school the best 7 hours of a kid's life?"
"Stick with your ideas. You can change your plans, but stick with your ideas"
"The best Makerspace is between your ears."
- Gary Stager

While in my library and literacy travels, I have, of course, come across several Makerspace conversations. I should add a disclaimer here right now: I think every library should be part Makerspace….and that every Makerspace should have a library. If you ever find yourself in downtown Edmonton, take a look at the Edmonton Public Library’s fabulous Makerspace.  

A while back I attended a session on Makerspaces by EIPS' own Ryan Layton, and just recently I attended a presentation by Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez authors of the website and book of the same name.This blog post restates ideas from both of those presentations. Below are some of the key resources/ideas/learning that I took note of during the two sessions. Thanks to both presenters for allowing me to share their info here. 

FYI: The quotes at the top of this blog post are all Gary’s...and were some highlights for me to frame my thinking about tinkering and making.

What is the Maker Movement?
Maker education spaces can be as large as full high school workshops with high-tech tools, or as small and low-tech as one corner of an elementary classroom. A makerspace isn't just about the tools and equipment, but the sort of learning experience the space provides to students who are making projects”   Patrick Waters
What do I need for a Makerspace?
In their session handout, which you can find here, Gary and Sylvia write: “Your makerspace – whether in your classroom or any other space – should include support materials and inspiration for your students. There should be room to move, build, and think alone and together. Well-stocked classroom libraries, supplies, gadgets, technology, tools, toys, recycled materials and other assorted stuff within an arm’s reach of students are learning accelerants. Eleanor Duckworth reminds us, “If materials are slim, the only questions likely to be posed are the teacher’s.” See below for a list of resources and ideas for stocking and using your Makerspace.
How to I get the students Making?
The idea is once you get the space set up, kids are going to want to be engaged...but as we know, sometimes more structure is needed...simply saying " make something" might not be enough. To the right is a a quick photo of what makes a good prompt, this along with Gary and Sylvia's take on the 8 elements that make a good project might be a good place to start when thinking of building Makerspace challenges. There are tons of projects and project templates online. Some of my favourites are listed below. 

The hard thing about Makerspaces, IMHO, is that you need to start it with your students before you know exactly where it will end. And that can be hard for teachers. The prompt my group was given at the Invent To Learn session was to build a dancing Tikki Bird, using whatever was around and a Hummingbird Robotics Kit. On the other hand, the great thing about Makerspaces is that the projects can be highly engaging (I still have very fond feelings for my little tikki bird) and can be easily related to several curricular areas, including the new CTF curriculum that will be implemented in September 2016.

More Resources and Links

Our Dancing Tikki Bird

There's a lot more I could write on/link to on this topic, but I think the links above will give you a start. A good Makerspace, like a good learning commons, will ultimately take shape around the needs/passions/interests of the school, and its students and teachers. Happy Making!

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