If you've been keeping up on education trends lately, chances are you’re familiar with the recent emphasis on doing, creating, crafting, constructing, designing, building…essentially, making! From using laser cutters to building a house of LEGO® bricks, the goal is to make. The importance of this multidisciplinary hands-on learning has been sweeping the nation, one makerspace at a time.
Makerspaces share roots with a myriad of concepts. The DIY (Do-It-Yourself) movement, constructivist philosophy, whole-brain thinking, and even the STEM initiative all are contributors to what we know today as the Maker Movement. Because of its diverse background, makerspaces have become somewhat of a loosely defined concept—so what makes a makerspace? It may be more simple than you think! The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) notes several common elements of successful makerspaces:
They promote learning through play and experimentation
They’re cross-disciplinary, with elements of art, science and craftsmanship
They offer tools and materials that encourage students to create rather than consume
You can set up a makerspace in just a few steps:
First, you need a space. It can be an unused classroom, a computer lab, a spare room in a library, a garage, any available space condusive to making.
Next, you need supplies for making. This is where the loose definition comes into play. Many individuals associate makerspaces with the latest and greatest technology. Fabricated software, 3D printers, robotics, and computer coding programs often are salient essentials. But setting up these spaces can be as simple as involving a quick Target® run, or even a walk through your home.
Though that’s not to say advanced technological makerspaces aren’t worth the time and resources. Below are advantages to both ends of the makerspace spectrum.
Small investment in supplies, overhead, and external technical expertise
Open-ended—little guidance and instruction required
Easy to implement
Requires little supervision
Supply list includes (but not limited to):
o Paper cutouts
o Duct tape
Exposes students to cutting-edge technology
Latest technology, such as 3D printers, has dramatically dropped in price