My school needs a makerspace for a couple important reasons. First, it helps students learn problem solving and higher order thinking skills, which is essential to their future as students, employees, parents, and community members. Second, it allows them to create things with their hands. They get to design, build, revise and improve their own creations. According to Cooper (2013), “Makerspaces provide hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent as they deeply engage in science, engineering and tinkering.” As an educator, I have had countless talks with numerous people about the importance of teaching science and engineering in my classroom. I feel that a makerspace will allow teachers to that in a way that makes learning enjoyable to students while challenging them.
I believe it is important for my school to foster creativity in students, while challenging them to become self-reliant problem solvers. This is important because “failure to embrace the kids’ competence, capacity, and creativity leads educators to deprive children of opportunities to achieve their potential. Worst of all, it cheats children out of the rich 21st century childhood they deserve” (Martinez & Stager, 2013). The teachers and administrators in our Title 1 school work hard to make sure our students reach their potential. It is especially important for us because our students come from military families and are typically only with us for three years before they move out of state and to a new school. We have a narrow window of opportunity and we need to make the most of it. This is not something that we can continually put off thinking that they will get it as they progress through their educational career because we have no knowledge of where they will be and what educational opportunities they will receive.
We need to keep in mind that “making requires two sets of skills and the confidence to try something new. The first is simply tool skills – knowing which tool to use and how to use it safely…The second set of skills can be thought of as diagnostic and problem-solving skills. These are the skills required to figure out why something won’t work, come up with a creative solution and to manage one’s emotions through the process. These skills probably can be taught, but they are typically learned through practice and coaching (a key skill for a teacher in a makerspace). But before kids even start a project, they need the confidence to even try” (Thomas, 2013). The second set of skills is what is important for our students’ futures. They need to learn to take chances now, in elementary school. We need to coach them and give them time to practice finding solutions. I think this process is especially important to our struggling students before they feel demoralized or humiliated. We need to let them express their ideas in new and different ways.
Cooper, J. (2013, September 30). Designing a School Makerspace. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/designing-a-school-makerspace-jennifer-cooper
Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.
Thomas, P. (2013, August 11). 3 Key Qualities for a School Makerspace. Retrieved July 21, 2015, from Makezine: http://makezine.com/2013/08/11/key-qualities-for-a-school-makerspace/