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.
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.
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