“I enjoy it. I think that would be fun. I would probably make the most stupid design and print it on the 3D printer.” This is what my 16 year old son said about Makerspaces. This seems to be the general attitude and perception towards maker spaces. They seem like a lot of fun, but most people don’t really know what to do with them. I admit that I would enjoy messing around in a Makerspace.
Of course, a well designed Makerspace has a purpose that it is working towards. In the article “7 things you should know about Makerspaces” the author talks about a huge 50,000 square foot facility in Millwalkee with state of the art electronic equipment, computer stations, 3D printers and powerful design software whose purpose is to come up with ways to improve the community. As long as you are willing to work towards this purpose, it is free.
The first part of the focus for this week’s learning is “What is the pedagogy behind a Makerspace?” I think there are two parts to this answer. First, Makerspaces remind me of a Montessori school where student find their way through their own education. In a Makersapce, you are in charge of what you want to be doing (within broad frameworks) and how you are going to go about doing it. This allows students to question, experiment and and go a fast or slow as their ability and imagination will take them.
The second strong pedagogy that Makerspaces use is hand-on learning. You are actually making things, experimenting and trying new things. We all know that well designed hands-on learning can be very effective.
The second focus for this weeks learning is “What are the benefits for students? Most schools can’t afford all the equipment that most Makerspaces have so they start small. In one example from Eric Sheninger’s article “A Principal’s Reflections: Impact of a Makerspace,” he gives an example of a librarian who had a small room filled with computers and computer parts. Student would take them apart and put them back together. One group decided to build their own computer and created a website to share the experience.
On of the most powerful befits of Makerspaces for students is the ability to be creative, take control of their own learning and provides them a powerful experience. While we might not be able to provide 3D printers and computer stations with expensive software on them, but we can start small and see where it will lead.
Waclawski, D. (2015) Informal Interview on 6-8-16 at 10:26 pm.
EDUCAUSE. (2013). 7 things you should know about: makerspaces. Retrieved on 6-8-2016 at 10:11 pm. Found at https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7095.pdf
Sheninger, E. A principal’s reflections: impact of a makerspace. Retrieved on 6-8-2016 at 10:11 pm. Found at http://esheninger.blogspot.com/2014/12/impact-of-makerspace.html.