“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:
- 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
- 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