A Makerspace is that purposeful designated area where students are encouraged to tinker, create and invent. The need for these types of learning spaces was fueled by Dr. K.H. Kims 2010 study entitled “The Creativity Crises” , and featured in Newsweek magazine. Her longitudinal study revealed while students IQ’s are increasing their creativity is decreasing. Creativity is a critical skill to remain globally competitive. (Resnick 2017) (Kim 2016)
As the need for Makerspaces continues to grow I am often asked “What do I put in a Makerspace”. I rely on what Dr. Seymour Papert taught us over 20 years ago, “create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready made knowledge”. So, how do we create those conditions?
While much attention is focused on high tech items such as Mini robots, Programmable Devices, 3-D printers, and Laser Cutters, students first need opportunities to create with low tech items, to imagine something out of nothing. Create those conditions by filling the Makerspace with items such as plastic bottles, cardboard, newspaper, and duct tape. After all it was duct tape, bungee cords and a few other common items that saved the the crew of Apollo 13. Provide an environment that, as I like to say, has no ceiling and no basement. Items should be readily accessible and easy to manipulate.
If you are not quite sure how to get started, check out Duct Tape Network (because you can do anything with Duct Tape! ). In collaboration with MIT Media Lab and Autodesk, DTN provides a great guidebook that will have you setting up a Makerspace program in no time. Imaginations.org’s Cardboard Challenge is a successful program that nurtures creativity with fun challenges. Grabbing from the headlines is also a great way to get started. Several months ago our Zoo here in Cleveland had to close unexpectedly, due to flooding. What if the zookeepers could not get in to the Zoo to feed the animals? Can the students design a prototype of a solution that will ensure animals will get fed should there be a situation where Zoo keepers could not get to work? Get your students thinking, tinkering, and trying by incorporating real world challenges!
This is the first in a series on Makerspaces and materials that enhance those spaces.