Week 10 – Why Does Homer High School Need a Makerspace?

I like this week’s essential questions, but I think the word “need” is a bit strong.  I don’t think we “need” a Makerspace, but I think we will be more effective if we have one.  We should try to have a growth mindset and continue to get better and this would be a good first step.  I still haven’t drunk the cool-aide yet when if comes Makerspaces and constructionist learning.  Don’t get me wrong, it is powerful and it can help some students, but it is not only solution or the best strategy in every situation.

That being said, I am excited to start a Makerspace at HHS.  A Makerspace will excite some students and get them engaged in way other methods haven’t.  I believe in personalizing learning and this is a great way to do that.  In order to meet the needs of all kids we do need to try new and exciting strategies and technology.

If a Makerspace is so exciting and will help lots of students, how do we afford them?  Forbes magazine in their article “We Need more Makerspaces, suggest we should have lots of mini Makersapces.  These mini Makerspaces could be pulled behind a trailer and could spend time at different schools or areas of a city.  While this isn’t the perfect situation, it is better than nothing.

Why should Homer High School have a Makerspace.  Michelle Davis sums this up well in her blog post, “Maker Spaces: The Benefits.”  She feels that Makerspaces have the following benifits:

  • They are empowering ways to learn
  • Provide learner-centric opportunities to learn and grow
  • They make learning relevant and authentic
  • Prepares them for their future
  • Addresses multiple intelligences
  • Invites multi age learning
  • Reflects real life
  • Can make real change in the world.

I feel those are more than enough reason for HHS to have a Makerspace.


Davis, M. Makerspaces: the Benefits. Curiositycommons.  Retrieved on 7-16-17 at: https://curiositycommons.wordpress.com/makerspaces-the-benefits/.

Martinez, S. L. Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

McCue, TJ. (2011). We need more Makerspaces.  Forbes. Retrieved on 7-16-17 at https://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2011/12/02/we-need-more-makerspaces/#3c23676872e6.

By waclawskid

Week 9 Reflection

This week I learned that having a Maker Day is important if you are going to develop a community Makerspace.  Being an educator, I assumed that I would build a Makerspace in a school and kids will come.  I didn’t think about the fact that people from the community might want to use it.  In fact, I don’t know that we can open our Makerspace to the public.  I was planning on having a Makerspace for just our high school.  If we opened it up to the public we would have to deal with alternate funding, supervision and sharing equipment with our career and technical  program.

From Sarah I learned that choosing the right date for a Maker Day is important.  If you hold it during the summer the number volunteer and students who can help goes down drastically.  If you choose a date during the school year it is hard to find a date that doesn’t conflict with something, especially sports.  This is an area that is tricky for all events and if you pick the wrong date no one will show up.

I was introduce to a Quote included in Mariah’s post from President Obama reminding us that we have always been a country of tinkerers and inventors.  This is something to remember because it is important and it is not easily measured or tested for.

Jule reminded me that money is an issue if you don’t have any and Brian agreed with me that our textbook goes overboard with its advise on how to plan for a Maker Day.

Our Arduino project was awesome this week.  Okay, I was presenting, but I enjoyed messing with the programming to change the pins and see what happened.  I now know that we can change were we set our cords up on the circuit board as long as we change the programming.

By waclawskid

Week 9: What would you need to coordinate a “Maker Day” for your school?

I like our textbook, “Invent to Learn,” but I have some issues with chapter 11 or “Make Your Own Maker Day.”  As a principal, managing, planning and publicizing events is part of what I do.  Chapter 11 basically gives you every idea, technique and advice on how to plan a Makerspace event.  If you are going to plan a Makerspace event, please don’t take every piece of advice Martinez and Stager give.  If you do, you will have the largest, most overplanned event in the history of your town.  I guess, if your goal is to have a huge, overplanned event that takes lots of work and effort to pull off, then go for it.  Good luck on planning your next event or encore.

Of course, I think the point is to create a huge, national event in as many places as possible.  This is very apparent in the “Day of Making” website which is basically an advertisement for a Maker Day.  There are also great videos and article explaining what a Makerspaces are and what they produce. You can find it at http://makezine.com/day-of-making/.

In the “Final Maker Day Toolkit,” the University of British Columbia has produced a 49-page guide for planing a Maker Day.  Our textbook only gives us 7 pages.  These Makerspace people don’t mess around.  For our purposes I will try to summarize what our textbook suggests for planning a Maker Day.

Martinez and Stager suggest the following ideas for planning a Maker Day at your school:

  1. Involve kids every way possible
    • Let them plan activities
    • Make posters
    • Run the classes
    • Make the materials for the day of the event
  2. Marketing, marketing & marketing
    • Decorate your room with examples of Making
    • Send information to TV, newspaper, radio and more
    • Use social media
    • Have kids send personalized notes to people they know
    • Rent roadside billboards and pay people to spread the word on social media (Just kidding on this one, but if you have the money…..)
  3. Scheduling is important
    • Start of with a bang and an exciting hands-on beginning activity
    • Keep things moving
    • Have lots of different types of activities
    • Highlight other areas of your school
      • Let the school band or choir perform at the Maker Day
  4. Materials
    • Make sure you have enough materials (Plan for more than you think you will need)
    • Break out the cool stuff
      • Let people use the wearable computing, robotics and other neat stuff
  5. Make good use of bringing all these people together
    • Use this opportunity to find experts who may be able to help in the future
    • Fundraise at the event if possible
    • Publicize what you are doing by getting photos, videos and articles out to the public and your website
  6. Wrap it up
    1. Announce the next event
    2. Clean up
    3. Thank your volunteers, presenters and sponsors

Having a Maker Day sounds like a lot of work, but also like a very fun event.  Good luck with your planning!


Day of making. Make:. Retrieved on 7-9-17 at http://makezine.com/day-of-making/.

Maker day 2014. (2014). The University of British Columbia. Retrieved on 7-9-17 at http://www.itabc.ca/sites/default/files/docs/discover/Final%20MakerDayToolKit.pdf.

Martinez, S. L. Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.


By waclawskid

Week 8 – Reflection

This week I learned from Sarah that teaching today is more about what you do with the information you have rather than memorizing it.  Many students are going to know more than the teacher in many subjects and that shouldn’t be scary, it should be exciting.  It is the teachers job to get them to use their skills and information to grow even more.

I also learned from Sarah that I shouldn’t try to kill myself to keep up with every technology trend.  It is too much to keep up with and I am sure I can find a student to teach me if needed.

From Mariah I learned that Minecraft and Prodigy are good games to implement state math standards with younger grade students.  I am always glad to see real world examples of constructionist learning at work.

I learned from Jule that by having a Makerspace in your classroom, there should never be down time.  I don’t think she intended for that to be her message, but by reading her post it made sense that if students finished their  work, they could tinker or create stuff.  What a great classroom engagement tool.

I learned from Brian that while teacher technically can’t teach something they don’t know, they can give students skills, strategies, feedback and items for improvement.  These are some the keys to be able to teach more than your know.


By waclawskid

Week 8 – Can you teach more than you know?

The question for this week is very thought provoking.  Can we teach more than we know?  Obviously, we can’t give something we don’t have, but then many coaches have taken players further than the coach has ever gone, so it seem possible.  I do think teachers can inspire, direct and challenge students to do more and learn more than they ever did.

I know I helped direct and prod my daughter to excel in math far beyond my capabilities.  When she asked questions I didn’t know the answer to, I would check the internet, suggest strategies to try, or ask questions to help–all while having no idea how to do the actual math.  It did help her and she is now a National Merit Scholar and she earned a perfect Math SAT score (I am not taking all the credit!) So I guess that means I am answering yes to this week’s essential question.

It seems our reading this week agrees with me.  In Hannah Hudson’s article, “Do Students Know More About Technology Than You Do?” she states, “The new digital divide is not between the haves and have-nots. It’s between kids and grown-ups.”  Her article basically talks about using kids as a resource and letting them be the experts in this area.  Because students are technological natives they want to and expect to use technology wherever and whenever they possibility can.

Tina Barseghian, in her article, “Three Trends that Define the Future of Education and Learning,” lists what it means when students have more ownership in their learning and that they know more than their teachers in some areas. Here is a summary of that list:

  • Both teachers and students can learn from each other
  • Teachers are becoming facilitators and guides for students
  • Teachers are changing the way they teach to meet students’ needs
  • Quiet and non-participatory students are now becoming engaged
  • Teachers are personalizing learning for all students

Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager in their book, “Invent to Learn,” further support the premise that students can learn more than teachers know.  They state, “How can my students be agents of change rather than of objects of change?” They believe empowered and engaged students can learn and are capable of much more than we give them credit for.  If teachers help them find their passions and support them, the sky is the limit.


Barseghian, T.  (2011). Three trends that define the future of teaching and learning. Mind/Shift.  Retrieved on 7-6-17 at http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/02/05/three-trends-that-define-the-future-of-teaching-and-learning/.

Hudson, H. (2017). Do your students know more about technology than you do? Scholastic. Retrieved on 7-6-17 at https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/do-your-students-know-more-about-technology-you-do/.

Martinez, S. L. Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.


By waclawskid

Week 7 Reflection

I always find it entertaining that before we can talk about the philosophy of teaching, including whether it is constructionist or not, we need to talk about rules and procedures first. Whenever we put more than a couple student in a Makerspace or classroom, there needs to be rules so things run smoothly.   This is one major similarity between traditional and constructionist teaching and learning.

I really like that Sarah is going to try a different variation of a Makerspace by creating a chemistry Makerspace.  This could be a very powerful tool for students and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.  It will also be interesting to see what issues, safety concerns and specials rules she will have to come up with to make it run smoothly.  I love to see when people stretch themselves.

Mariah came up with 3 main categories of rules for her Makerspace.  They are: be responsible, safe and respectful.  I like that they are simple and relevant.  I will remember to make similar rules that are simple yet relevant for my Makerspace.

Jule’s idea of having very few rules for what students can do in a Makerspace can be powerful for her students.  Of course, this can also cause problems and safety concerns.  She may want to think of procedures and basic safety rules to make sure things run smoothly.  That being said, she may have a great idea that helps shape powerful Makerspaces.  It will be interesting to see how this works out.

I will definitely use Brian’s diagrams for using a tool and for learning how to use a new tool.  I will use both his diagrams and his rules.  I love his ideas for using a new tool such as attend a lecture, watch a video, demo it or more.  The attendant certifies that each student has been trained on the tool before they use it.

By waclawskid

Week 7 – What are the Rules of Your Makerspace?

“Doing develops expertise. That should come as no surprise.” I like this quote from our textbook, Invent to Learn.  It seems like common sense, yet it has a lot of power.  You can watch a video on YouTube on how to repair your car, but actually doing it is totally different. Every coach knows this and most teachers understand it, but it doesn’t always happen in the traditional classroom.  Makerspaces are little oasis’s meant to help students do things, tinker and create something new.  In other words, we are getting kids to develop expertise.

What are the rules of your Makerspace?  It depends on what you want to do and who your audience is.  This is like creating a positive culture in your classroom.  You have to make a conscious decision based on what you want your results to be.  The goal is to create a safe place where students can experiment, where mistakes are okay, and where questions like “How can we make this better?” are are asked by everyone.

Safety is always important and even more so in a Makerspace that may have power tools, glue guns, saws and 3D printers.  The web PDF “SLO Makerspace Rules and General Safety” provides a great resource for safety rules.  They can be found at the following web address: http://www.slomakerspace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/SLOMakerSpaceRulesandGeneralSafety.pdf . They address the following safety issues:

  • Clothing
  • Hair
  • Never working alone
  • Cleaning up after working
  • Storing materials
  • Use of safety equipment such as
    • Eye protection
    • Ear protection
    • Hand protection (gloves for some purposes)
    • Foot protection (Covered shoes)
    • Lung protection (Masks for dust and fumes)
    • Miscellaneous protection such as leathers for welding
  • Handling hazardous materials
  • And more…

The Dallas Makerspace suggests we consider the following non-safety issues.  These are things that will come up and cause problems if you don’t deal with them.  It is better to be proactive than reactive. They include:

  • Code of conduct
  • Guests
  • Children and supervising children in a Makerspace
  • Complaints against other users
  • Discrimination policy
  • Anti-harassment policies
  • Dues or costs for users
  • Storage of projects
  • Commercial use of Makerspace (for example, what to do if someone uses this space to make something to sell for a large profit)
  • Donations of money and tools (avoid your Makerspace becoming a dumping area)
  • Damaged materials or tools

While this isn’t the sexy part of a Makerspace, these are essential to address.  This doesn’t get into developing the culture you want in a Makerspace, if you don’t deal with these items first, you can forget about developing a culture.  This is like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  You have to deal with safety and procedures before you can move up to things like purpose and focus.


Dallas Makerspace Wiki. (2017). Rules and Policies.  Retrieved on 6-28-17 at https://dallasmakerspace.org/wiki/Rules_and_Policies

Martinez, S. L. Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

SLO MakerSpace Rules and General Safety. (2013). Retrieved on 6-28-17 at http://www.slomakerspace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/SLOMakerSpaceRulesandGeneralSafety.pdf

By waclawskid

Week 6 Reflection

The number one thing I learned this week is that Makerspaces don’t have to have all the best equipment.  In fact, it might be beneficial to go without some materials so students have to be creative and make do with cheaper and lower tech materials.  I think the key is to be flexible and look for free, donated or cheap materials and equipment whenever possible.  Otherwise, a Makerspace can get very expensive very fast.

I really like how Sarah is pushing the envelope for Makerspaces by trying to create a chemistry Makerspace.  I would think this would be better for tinkering, but I like how she is pushing boundaries.

I like Mariah’s idea of adding difficult-to-find tools to a Makerspace that is already up and running.  This will add to what they are already doing and make it stronger.  Her idea of getting local people and grants to pay for it is also interesting.  I like the idea of bringing the community into developing the Makerspace.

Lastly, I like Brian’s breakdown of how you should use your funding for a Makerspace.  He found a resource from MIT that explains what you spend you money on.  For example, you should spend around 40% of you money on major equipment and 10% an computers and so on.  This will be a good source for me in the future.

By waclawskid

Week 6 – What stuff will you stock your making space with, what’s the cost, and how will you fund it?

Our textbook answers this question by giving a good Maker prompt.  It basically says that you can create your emphasis, that there really isn’t any required Makerspace equipment, the use of cardboard is great, sometimes doing without things can be good for students and their creativity, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.  So basically, I can be creative, follow my interests, and take my Makerspace as far I I want to take it.  This is good example of a constructionist assignment, which means the textbook is actually following it’s own advise.

I have to admit that as a principal I can cheat on this assignment, because I can just budget money for my Makerspace and reallocate materials from other departments to make this happen.  For my Makerspace I plan on having a computer emphasis.  We will have two 3D printers, one laser engraver and lots of software.

We have started a CAD lab with about 8 computers in a small room next to our computer-controlled plasma cutter.  I plan on moving another 8 computers from one of our under-used computer labs to make 16 computers in the CAD lab and purchase 30″ monitors to go with these computers.

Software for this lab will include:

  • Autodesk
  • Softworks
  • TinkerCad
  • Adobe Premiere
  • Adobe Photoshop

Other equipment to be included:

  • 10 Audrino Kits
  • 10 Makey Makey Kits
  • 5 Lego Robotic Kits
  • 3D printers
  • 3 older laptops (to experiment on or use for other operating systems)

The school already owns the equipment such as the laptops, computers, the 3D printers, the Lego robotics kits and the laser engraver. We also own all of the software listed above, but most of it isn’t being used or utilized well.

We will budget $3000 for the initial cost of the Audrino and Makey Makey kits and other miscellaneous material and supply needs such as wood and metal for our engraver and plasma cutter and money to continually fix our 3D printers.  Since we can use this Makerspace for multiple purposes, this will be much more economical to create and maintain.  In the article, “Funding School Makerspaces” it suggests that you be as flexible as possible, borrowing spaces and equipment, finding grants, and getting things for free.  If that is the case, then my plan for funding is right on track.

My plan for a Makerspace isn’t perfect, but we can get started as soon as the new school year gets going. I know we will have many students who will be interested in tinkering from day one.  We have space for our Makerspace, basic equipment for start-up, a focus, and funding.  While we will start with a technology emphasis; I do hope we can expand our Makerspace in future years.


Martinez, S. L. Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

Hlubinka, M. (2013). Funding School Makerspaces. Make.  Retrieved on 6-20-17 at http://www.makerspacelab.com/white-lab-coats-for-kids-resources/.

Makerspace Lab: Resources. Maker Education Initiative. Retrieved on 6-20-17 at http://www.makerspacelab.com/white-lab-coats-for-kids-resources/.

By waclawskid

Week 5 Reflection

This week I remembered that I like tinkering with our Arduino kit.  I don’t know why this surprises me, but I do enjoy it.  I have also learned a lot about circuitry and electricity.  Now I just need to get the programming down.

I have to admit that this week’s topic is something I think am constantly talking about to my staff.  I feel like a broken record asking teachers “How do you know your students have learned the material after you have taught it?”  While this was an easy topic to discuss, I did learn many new perspective on the issue.

From the textbook I like the information about how teachers teach the way they were taught, and how hard it is to change their teaching style.  I enjoyed the discussion from Sarah about the fact that teachers get caught up in their perceived roles and sometimes forget they are there to help facilitate learning.  I liked Mariah’s discussion about the natural conflict between teachers and students and how that can affect learning.  This was a new idea for me.

I think the main thing I got from this week’s discussion is that we need to personalize learning as much as possible.  Students learn in different ways and teachers have preferred ways of teaching and somehow we have to meet every students’ needs.  While tinkering and Making can be powerful teaching methods, it might not work for all students.  The more flexible we can be and the more freedom we can give students, the closer we can get to meeting all students’ learning needs.

By waclawskid