Essential question: What is the pedagogy behind a Maker Space? What are the benefits of this pedagogy to students?

I think the method behind a maker space is open up the thought process of students. The concept is brilliant. Think about it, a room of stuff…..lots of stuff…. And you tell kids, this is what I want you to make, and I don’t care how you do it. Use what ever you can find, or make and bring your own stuff along as well.

When I was in high school I walked into my geology class on the first day, there was a pile of tinker toys, string, paperclips, rubber bands, and pieces of paper. The teacher had written on the board be right back. For fifteen minutes we waited. Some of us started to play with the stuff on the table making whatever came to mind, some people just sat there, and some kept saying to leave it alone, there were no instructions. It was fun and exciting to see something come out of nothing. My lab partner and I built a car that you wound up a rubber band and it spun an axel. When the teacher came in we didn’t hear him, along with about half the class because we were playing. He walked around and talked to us about what we made, why we decided on that and so on. He then said ok, if you built something raise your hand. We thought we were in trouble. It was the opposite, he said these students would probably do something in life that requires them to think on their own, and use their hands. We took the stuff apart, and learned about rocks. As it turns out, all of us that built something were the only ones to find rocks, cut them apart to see what was on the inside, and polish rocks. That was 1985, I should have been a geologist!

With that being said, I can see this is not really something new. That teacher had an idea, he wanted to see; one, what would people do, and two, what did they do with it. His belief was we need to look deeper into what we study to really understand, and sometimes we have to make things to get that done. In What’s the Maker Movement and Why should I Care, Tracy Rudzitis said “Her experiences constantly remind her that children are capable of powerful ideas.” (2014). Gary Stager said that for too long schools have undervalued learning with one’s hands (2014). Its true, we have lost focus of what our kids can do. We have spent so much time focused on test scores, and less on using the brain to build something. But in reality the building is the beginning. Kids can build things, yes, but how about adding in a written description of the building project, having them describe the project on paper is actually a skill that is required, steps in a process, this is as important as the building itself. What about math facts to solve a problem with the build? Holly cow I like this more and more.

In the following video, Marc Teusch talks about the importance of the maker movement and the philosiph of learning while doing at a TED conference.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ruo904vtQ8w

In Edutopia, Jennifer Cooper really explains the Maker Space, she describes it as not being solely a science lab, or computer lab, or woodshop, or even an art room. She explains how it incorporates all of those features in one room. I can see that it is really not that hard to set up, I bet you could start a room from some simple thrift shop stops, and all the old stuff that we throwaway all the time. I can see this being something that could be set-up at my school if all the teachers got together and came up with ideas of what they wanted to accomplish in the year. Make something that has a purpose and a function. How cool would that be. This is using the imagination and still utilizing math, reading, and writing. I believe this is a tool that should be available, should be used and should be simple to use. There is enough information, (more than I even knew existed) to start a program at a school on a no string budget.

This is something that will open the minds of our kids, open the imagination (something that is slowly slipping away) and have them create, just create. It can be shared, blogged about, photographed, written about, we can hit standards, we can teach them to teach themselves. I bet it would get rid of the ditto’s and the boring lectures that they sit through now.

Resources:

Cooper, J. (September 30, 2013). Designing a School Makerspace. Edutopia. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/designing-a-school-makerspace-jennifer-cooper

Stager, G. (2014). Whats the Maker Movement and Why Should I Care. Administr@tor Magazine, Winter 2014. Retreived from http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3758336

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4 comments

  1. wollert7790 · June 13, 2015

    It was a joy to read your blog this week. At first I thought “why would you want to tell a student what to make?” I wouldn’t want to tell them, I think it should come from their creative department. Then I read more and decided I really like what your teacher did and how you explored. Nowadays they frown on leaving students alone like that but why couldn’t you be just outside the door peeking in? I took the geology one step further and got my gemologist credentials which lets me play with very pretty rocks! My poor new principal doesn’t know what to do with her little emerging technology grasshopper! All my ideas must come out and a Makerspace was obvious when she said she didn’t know what to do with some unused space.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jnyboy1131 · June 13, 2015

    Awesome!! Today it would not be a great idea to leave kids alone, but for me it was just a chance to explore with another person. i learned a lot from that teacher!! I love the idea of the maker space. As a matter of fact we have a “STEM” room which is a joke in my school. I want to go this summer and show some stuff to the principle and see if we can’t make this a reality. I can see many benefits for the classroom and the kids. In a school that struggles with a lot of stuff, I can see this as a tool for learning beyond the science aspect.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. miakuartei · June 14, 2015

    That’s exciting that you are thinking about introducing a makerspace at your school. That will be a good start for our club planning document and proposal in this course, you can use it to make your pitch! It will be great if students can work on interdisciplinary projects too or to have this space to just explore and test their ideas. I find that in an after school program, the older the students are, the more time I need to “break” them of the habits they’ve been taught – to sit and receive information, to look for the one right answer or to do things the right way, and to work on assigned tasks rather than directing their own learning. You should check out Google’s MakerCamps that are happening this summer, they have the activities online so you can see what they will do and get some ideas for what will work at your school. http://makercamp.com/

    Liked by 2 people

  4. jnyboy1131 · June 14, 2015

    Thank you for the link to the maker camp, the closest to me is 4 hours away and not possible to do, but I am going to talk to the local college here, they have summer programs for kids, and see if this is something that could be done in the future. I would like to start a program at my school. We have a room that is for STEM, it has not been used by us the teachers, it is for a program that works with kids that get in trouble. As a group of teachers, we disagree with the program, because they use it when a child has to be take out of the room for behavior issues, and as it turned out, kids got in trouble to go play. For us it was a waste, we couldn’t use the room or the resources. I think if I can convince the principal that this is beneficial, maybe she will see it as a plus to learning.

    Like

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