Thursday, 3 March 2016

Dreaming of a Makerspace?

Makerspaces are popping up everywhere in:
 - libraries,
 - schools,
-  universities and more.

Because they help stimulate thinking and creativity.  Learning by doing is a powerful way to learn.

What is a makerspace?
There are lots of different types of makerspaces out there.  Some people believe true makerspaces are only those with tools on board, or must involve community or experts.

However, I like the wider definition from Renovated Learning:

'A makerspace is a place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore and discover using a variety of tools (both physical and digital) and materials.'

Thus your makerspace can be high tech or low tech.   It might involve activities that run the gamut from coding or robotics to lego construction and duct tape craft.

However  it is about learning by doing, and should offer the opportunity to collaborate, share and build knowledge across the participants. Ultimately students should guide their own learning in a makerspace.

Dreaming your makerspace into reality
So have you dreamt of a makerspace but not sure where to start, or worried about having to manage a range of activities that you might not be skilled in?

Here are five ingredients to help you create a Dream Makerspace that will be sustainable for you and your school.

Design a magical but also practical space to foster imagination and creativity
- Furniture, equipment, whiteboards for brainstorming, collaborative hubs, fun practical flooring or curtains or blinds to set a scene.  If you have little or no budget think creatively, go to IKEA or Bunnings for ideas.
Plan a set of makerspace activities that you can get started with.  
- Initially use what you have or ask for donations or loans for activities.  Mix a few high tech with some low tech activities. For e.g. Robotics (High tech) and Duct tape creations (low tech)
Gather some interest from staff, students and families
- Show them what a makerspace can be.  Ask students for their input into what the space could look like and the type of activities. Ask teachers to be involved in the planning.
Decide on a strategy for use of the Makerspace 
-Timing (recess, lunch, after school) targeted groups, by invitation etc, who will supervise, who will help.
Utilise the expertise of others to help sustain the makerspace
- Ask staff, teachers, parents and other students to share their skills.  Ask for student interest in being a Makerspace mentor to help in the activities.

You can use the following slideshow to get staff interested and engaged in building your makerspace.

Once you have a few people interested copy the following planning template to get you started.

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