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

The pedagogy behind a Maker Space is to provide a collaborative space or spaces that allow students to have self-directed, hands-on exploring, designing, building, experimenting, and learning. I believe that the space should not be just for students but also for staff, faculty, parents, and community members. According to an article on Educase, “makerspaces have become arenas for informal, project-driven, self-directed learning, providing workspace to tinker, try out solutions, and hear input from colleagues with similar interests” (Educause, 2012). So, to sum it up, it’s a safe place to put your ideas to the test.

When I think of a makerspace and what I would like it to look like in my school, I think that I would want to start small and expand over time. I would like to start in our school’s large and open art and science room. There are several worktables that would allow students to work with different materials. I would love to see a robotics group, a clay making group, and a “if you build it, it is art” group. The supplies they could use would encompass many different items. As Stager wrote, “Best of all, you don’t need expensive hardware, or to start by mastering a programming language. You can begin with found materials: buttons, bottle caps, string, clay, construction paper, broken toys, popsicle sticks, or tape (hint: Google “tapigami” or “duck tape projects”). Reusing materials is consistent with kids’ passion for environmentalism and is an ideal of the maker movement” (Stager, 2014). I am sure I could get parent and community volunteers to come in and “make” with the students after school.

It might be a good idea to start with a classroom makerspace and then expand it into an after school club that is open to all ages. I can see that a makerspace club would be very popular; therefore, it would need to be well thought out and planned. Of course, funding can also be an issue, so I would have to see if I can get materials donated and have many volunteers. I believe that it would not be long before I would need to expand. As Cooper noted, “Some schools have chosen to incorporate makerspaces within multiple classroom spaces. This works well for many activities, particularly in elementary schools. As maker activities expand to require more tools, it makes more sense to create a dedicated makerspace that includes appropriate tools, work areas and materials” (Cooper, 2014). The payoff is the excitement about learning that makerspaces generate. I envision parents and teachers working next to students building positive learning relationships while exchanging ideas and encouraging exploration.

References

Cooper, J. (2014, September 30). Designing a School Makerspace. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/designing-a-school-makerspace-jennifer-cooper

Educause. (2012, February 7). 7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms. Retrieved June 2, 2015, from Educause: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7081.pdf

Stager, G. (2014, Winter). What’s the Maker Movement and Why Should I Care? Retrieved June 9, 2015, from Scholastic: http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3758336

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4 thoughts on “What is the pedagogy behind a Maker Space? What are the benefits of this pedagogy to students?

  1. I love how you said, “start small”! I was thinking I could take some legos my older children never really did much with and put those out! Very challenging for someone who is other-side brain focused to think out of the box. I wish I could transport my brother-in-law’s workshop to my classroom with his boat, car, and house tools and repair parts! Many students spend a lot of time fishing, so I wonder if more of a shop type space would be possible in AK communities?

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  2. I agree it would be nice to start a maker space at school. We currently have a Robotics team, but the person running the programs retired this year so I hope it will continue. In addition to Robotics, it would be nice to provide kids with a place to hang our before and after school that allowed them to be creative and collaborative. At this point I don’t know where that space might be. Next year, I will start simple with a dedicated space in my room to be creative. We have lots of antiquated supplies in the building I think we could recycle. Maker space are also a great way to get families involved in school.

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    • I agree that maker spaces are a great way to get families involved in school. Our school doesn’t have a robotics team and I’ve thought about trying to start one, but I really am more interested in having a maker space that is open to all students regardless of their interests. I wonder if that is too broad of an idea because I have no idea how to implement it.

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      • I think you’re on the right track by keeping it for all ages and interests and starting out small and growing it as you gain interest. Kids will probably be initially shocked and excited that there is a dedicated space for playing, tinkering, and making what they want; as they gain more familiarity with tools and research more projects, they will probably begin coming up with their own ideas. There might even be parents or other community members that are already makers and would be great to invite to help out and share their expertise. Thinking about the pedagogy this week was important because I think it helps to be able to introduce makerspaces and understand how to support this type of learning environment. I’m looking forward to reading more about your makerspace club as you develop it!

        Liked by 1 person

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