The Atlanta Science Festival was a comprehensive arrangement of Science workshops, family activities as well as educator learning opportunities. Seeking professional development and living with a growth mindset sends us all over the country. Sometimes the opportunities are in your back door or neighboring state. Sometimes those opportunities are in the classroom next to you. With a variety of sessions and events, we had to map out what would be best for STEAM learning and collaboration. After driving for half an hour and ending up in a warehouse district, I must say we were a little hesitant but then remembered some of our best learning has been when it was least expected. With only 5 cars in the parking lot and two hours ahead of us, we entered. At first glance it looked like we would know about most of the materials being shared but that is noreason no to seek intently. To listen. To Reflect.
A conversation about plastic #6 and how use plastic and heat to create art reminded us of a project our art teacher just completed as a part of her curriculum andSTEAM participation. Several times this week the term “oldie but goodie” has been used in a variety of conversations. In a session on PBL, oldie but goodie technology resources were revisited. We don’t always have to replace something that is working or that serves a purpose.
During this session on Makerspaces, The oldie but goodie motto was brought to life with the remembrance of “Shrinky Dinks”. Jewelry making, badges and ornaments were all innovative ways to use Plastic #6 using the same heating concept with plastic as used with “Shrinky Dinks”. Fabrication of jewelry provides making opportunities that are completely student driven by individual artistic imagination.
A final use of plastic in making was the 3D hologram. The 3D hologram uses an iPhone or iPad to project the image onto a folded piece of plastic that simulates a hologram. This is not a “Shrinky Dink” activity but uses recycled plastic to (CD cases , old transparencies, and I am sure your imagination can think of others) create a hologram effect. In addition, we learned how to make the videos for use with the plastic hologram attachment. This is another opportunity for students to use individual creativity to publish a final piece and communicate understanding.
A great weekend of learning and bringing back. Thanks to all those that shared and learned with us.
MAKER– a person that makes, hacks, produces, wood/metal work, creates something new. Many times a maker includes a creator of new technologies: new devices, video games, electronics, robotics, and/or apps. Makers are DIY people/persons. They have a unique culture of thinking and mindset. A Maker also includes a creative mind, innovated ideas, and the ability to make things come to life (Kickstarter). Makers support open source hardware, they tinker, and see cardboard/recyclables as tools (Junk ReThunk). The Maker Movement is fast moving and supports Constructivism/Social Constructivism learning. What a great movement for purposeful play, discovery, and developmentally appropriate activities for our students.
OLOGY – a subject to study or branch of knowledge
MAKEROLOGY (EDU Version) – The study of MAKING (What is best for students? Best Practices with Making, STEAM, and looking at your learning space with 21st – century eyes: Does it work for what we know about learning today, or just for what we knew about learning in the past? Do you have a space for making? Making is not about the tools. It is about creativity, opportunities, design, the environment, and time).
Maker Movement – If you create a system where initiative and creativity is valued and rewarded, then you’ll get change for the bottom up.
Maker Week was a huge success. Students across all grades, K-4, were engaged in student centered making. As a part of the week, teachers and students worked to build a Boat Launch with an emphasis on using recycled materials. Samford University, pre-service teachers worked along side the STEAM facilitator and other faculty to gather materials for over 350 students to make boats to launch. Milk containers along with many donated recyclables made the experience creative and innovative for students. Thank you @Scrapkins for the idea! Students rotated during PE to build and make with the new Imagination Playground and launch their boats. Data collection was part of the experience along with many discussions on boat redesign. Second through fourth grade students recorded data on how fast their boat traveled down the launcher and kindergarten recorded data on a Venn diagram (did your boat float, did your boat make it the other side of the pool and both).
Dr. Seuss was also a theme within the week that allowed students to make related to literature.
Classroom teachers were active in the MakerStudio facilitating student making. Grades K-4 used the space to facilitate learning in the classroom as well as free design. Free design included student made mazes for robots to be coded through, canoodles, pixelation with pinblocks, drone challenges,a crane with rigamajigs and 3d printing with tynkercad designs and structures with sticklets.
Makerfest rounded out the week with over 65 students attending a Friday night event with making for all ages. Younger students built and made with various materials. The new IO blocks were a hit with K-1 students while drone challenges and rigamajig contraptions were leaders with the older students.
Success with integration and implementation of Makerspaces is quite simple. Simple with respect to pedagogy, vision, tools and buy-in. Not so simple if these aspects are not in place. Technology (laptops, robots, ipads etc.) and various materials without pedagogy will impact the success of the space. For some reason, the onset of a makerspace for many focuses on money, what others have, and the things/devices rather than on the process. The heart of success with any new initiative/movement can be found in leadership and passionate teachers with good sound pedagogy and practices. Sustained implementation requires teaching (knowing the curriculum) first followed by the tools. A passionate, self-seeking teacher(s)/leader(s) who studies the curriculum, seeks professional development, shares and collaborates with others via their PLN and conferences is the ONLY true key to a successful initiative.
Second is the VISION and the expectation. The culture of a school is very instrumental in success. Leadership that supports “making” as a culture drives the expectations of the faculty. What is the vision and the branding of the school and how will it impact the culture of the school.
Third, what tools (not tech toys) will have the most success in the implementation phase. You want everyone to participate, use, and be willing to learn whatever the new tool might be. Success for the teacher needs to come early. Many times, we have to buy products ahead of time and test them before it is rolled out. When you decide on the tools, giving good sound examples with the curriculum standards will always attract teachers. If it is seen as a toy, teachers will see it as one more thing and not part of the curriculum. Technology is there to help teachers and enhance the curriculum.
Lastly, leaders must know how to generate buy-in from teachers. It is important to implement in a way that fits your school’s beliefs and educational culture (not someone else’s vision or design). All schools are different. You’ll get nowhere with a one-size fits all approach.
2. Vision and expectation
4. Buy – In
*This is part 1 of a series of blog post on Makerspaces. More to come on Learning Environments and their purpose.
1. The most important thing about a makerspace is to provide a place for students and teachers to be creative, to explore questions and ideas they have (whiteboard wall is great for Visible Thinking), to build something, all in a safe environment. The space should be thought out ahead of time and not just thrown together with TECH TOYS. Technology is not to be seen as a toy but rather a tool that enhances curriculum and learning.
2. The makerspace CAN BE no-tech, low-tech, or high – tech. In our case, we have developed a space for high-tech with a lot of engineering tools and literature. See OUR MAKERSPACE TAB soon (It’s under construction currently).
3. What will you use the space for? You will need to set the expectation about what will be done in that space. Will it be an open room, have a set schedule, or have a facilitator for the area. Someone will also have to manage the materials and know have to keep the technology up and working if you have a high- tech area.
4. Areas with expectations (signs/rules) in the makerspace let students know what that area/tool/materials are for. Posting expectations/rules helps students stay on task.
5. It is also important that you allow for students work to be posted/hanging in the area. Students also need to the freedom to leave their works of art out only to return to add more to their creation. Storage of their work is important.
6. Make-It challenges are also a nice thing to have hanging in the area. As students finish a project, that have other things they can create.
7. Visible thinking is a MUST. Students are able to re-visit their thinking and add to their thoughts as they work through their creations. We have a whiteboard wall that students brainstorm and add to as their project/creation grows.
8. Low-tech areas are a great starting point for any school. Materials would consist of art supplies, cardboard, blocks, legos, duct tape, scissors, glue, pattern blocks, literature, yarn, towel tubes, marbles and other various materials that will allow them to create pieces of art, sculptures, and design Rube Goldbery Machines.
9. START with what you have and what you know. Only you know what can be created and be successful. For us, we cleaned out closets, old science kits, and other various boxes only to find to big surprises! Move things around. You don’t need top of the line furniture etc. Create your own works of art. Remember…the space is for students. What do you think they want to see, build, feel, hear, and smell?