By providing your students with a makerspace in your classroom, you’re inspiring them to become creators, rather than consumers of education. A makerspace takes the knowledge students have acquired and redirects it into action. It helps students to make their own inquiries and allows their curiosity to guide them. A makerspace allows students to develop critical skills such as:
- Critical Thinking
But is it really possible to create an effective makerspace in your classroom? It is, and we’re going to tell you how to do it.
Every classroom is different, and the materials you provide in your makerspace will likely change depending on what you are teaching at the time. Here’s a few examples of some of the materials that we recommend you include in your makerspace:
- Recyclable materials, such as cardboard, plastic bottles, and jars
- Tape (Duct, Scotch, Electrical, etc)
- Blocks, Legos
- Fabric, String, & Yarn
- Old Electronics
If you can afford to invest in some of the nicer stuff, such as 3D printers or littleBits, that’s great; but it’s not necessary to have those things to create an engaging makerspace.
You won’t be able to afford all the materials you’d like to have at once, and that’s okay. Ask parents for donations and you’ll be surprised at how many materials you’ll be given. You may also consider renting expensive equipment for specific units.
Finding space in your classroom may be a challenge, but with some creative thinking you can find a way to make it work. Setting aside a dedicated space for students to work on projects is important, so try to set everything up in a specific corner so there is one dedicated area in your classroom.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Make sure all students are physically able to access the makerspace.
- Give students access to electricity in case it is needed for tools.
- Have garbage cans and recycling bins nearby to reduce mess.
- There should be an easy, efficient storage solution in place to hold maker materials.
- Have flexible seating options so that moving around for different projects is easier.
If space is an issue, consider reserving your makerspace for supply storage and specific tasks. Many maker projects can be done at desks, so this can be a good compromise.
So you have the materials and you have the space, but how do you actually get students to start using the makerspace?
Luckily students tend to gravitate towards makerspaces. They like to tinker with things, especially materials they may not see on a regular basis. With the right materials your students are able to create something new. Give your students freedom to come up with their own projects. The point of a makerspace is for students to use their curiosity to create.
Beyond that, we recommend presenting students with design challenges to help jumpstart their creativity. When you utilize design challenges, you are giving your students deadlines, focus, and giving them a chance to present their prototypes. Come up with your own challenges based on your curriculum or search online for design challenges.
We’d love to see your makerspaces! Share yours in the comments!