It is no new fact that all students hanker for practical experience of creating and problem solving and reason for such is simple- ‘They simply love it.’
As an encouragement and in order to kindle the spark of curiosity, critical thinking and hands-on-learning so that students take a step forward to makers movement, you find the buzz about coming up with a makerspace in schools and colleges. It has actually turned out to be an awesome idea and a way to engage students into deep learning. Presence of makerspace anywhere within the school creates learning opportunity for all. That being said, starting a makerspace is a process involving multiple factors- finding the right space, getting students and faculty involved as well as finding the right person to take charge of the maker movement in school.
Although, makerspace can be created anywhere in the school but most of the schools find the library the ideal setting to conduct maker-focused programs. Modern library can be an IDEA (Innovation, Design, Engineering and Art) lab and a kinetic area for learning. If this idea excites you and if you also want to convert the library area into a makerspace, follow the tricks mentioned below to make it happen.
1. Bring Together All Your Inspiration in One Place
Transform the traditional library into a flexible, collaborative makerspace and start thinking of funding and how are you going to spend the fund in a certain amount of time. For funding, you could also start with a maker club to raise money for the project and open up good opportunity for networking by engaging the campus and local community. You could also get in touch with civic organizations, societies or rotary clubs to bring the community into what the students are making in the schools. This would not only open up an avenue for fundraising but give a perfect platform to the students to showcase their work in front of the community.
Funding is in reality important for you to bring ideas into life. But make sure you are ready with some ideas on what kind and type of tools, equipment and furniture you want to include so that the spaces could be utilized in the best way. Remember, a makerspace doesn’t necessarily have to be complex in nature or feature expensive high tech gadgets.
By listing down the tools, equipment and furniture you wish to include in the makerspace from beforehand will help your schools to write down the estimation/ amount you need to collect for the creation of makerspace.
2. Try to Think Out-of-the-Box & Not Invest in the Same Technology as Others
Of course to figure out ideas and to understand what all technologies are used in makerspace you do need to refer to what schools in other districts are using. However, do not just depend on it. Start figuring out your list of tools that you think must be present in the makerspace to help your students explore.
The other point of consideration regarding technology is that most of the projects involve some technology component but tech is more often the tool than the learning goal for any project. So keep such into consideration and start selecting tools that serve the purpose of your projects. This will also help make wise utilization of your funds and purchase various components of technology at the same time.
Say for instance, just because 3D printers are in vogue and are being used by most of the schools, you end up getting tempted and invest on it most of your funding and find very little amount to be spent on the purchase of simple machines. It also narrows down the scope for your students to explore for they hardly get enough tools in hand to discover and experiment with for the purpose of their project works.
3. Showcase the Cross Curricular Value
Makerspace which is also popularly known as Hackspaces and Fablabs open up a space for students to perform cross disciplinary research, art and invention in a permanent Makerspace on campus.
For example, if you have coding and robotics into the library, as a subject instructor it is your part of job to not limit those technology to just the STEM field but connect them with humanities and how they could do so is part of your job to come up with such idea.
Literature supports coding and the maker movement in amazing ways. Similarly, if planned rightly, coding can also be integrated in the teaching of social studies, math, science and even English literature. In fact, such cross curricular projects excite students and spark critical thinking in students. The librarian can also help the classroom educator see the cross-curricular value that for instance coding and robotics have for students.
4. Integrate Digital and Physical Tools
Due to the explosion of digital wave, you find today there are a lot of great resources available to support students’ explorations and thinking. There are a wide variety of engineering tools and materials that students can use alongside traditional robots to encourage students to prototype solutions to problems. Tools such like Rigamajig can excite kids because they get a chance to prototype and build big things like cars, chairs and benches quickly and easily.
At times, many available simple machine add-ons help introduce complex concepts like cams, cogs and pulleys in innovative ways as kids start exploring them physically.
With the above tricks we hope you will now be able to successfully convert your library into an innovative ‘IDEA HUB’- allowing your students to make the most of tinkering and hands on learning to expand their power of exploration.