Monday, April 17, 2017

Maker Mindset

Everywhere you turn, people are talking about makerspaces and asking lots of questions. Where should the makerspace be placed? What materials and resources are needed? How much is it going to cost? Is it in our budget? Who is going to maintain the makerspace? How will students utilize this space? These are certainly good questions, but the most important question that begs to be asked is WHY? Why do you need a makerspace? In reality, a makerspace isn’t a space at all, it’s a mindset. It’s about exploring, discovering new ideas, and creating. It’s about being innovative and creating things that are new and better. It’s about tinkering, inventing, building, problem solving, critical thinking, and taking risks. It’s about collaborating and learning from others. It’s about failing, learning from mistakes and trying again. It’s about finding your passions and sharing them with others. It’s about making!

At Cooper Upper Elementary, we transformed a dreary storage room into a vibrant makerspace that is utilized by fifth and sixth graders. Two of these students, Evan and Robby, were especially energized by this new learning space last year. The doors were not officially opened, but the boys immediately felt safe to share some of the innovative projects that they had been creating at home because they didn’t feel that their passion for innovating had any place at school. Ouch! Talk about a punch to the gut. Up until that moment, our words spoke of innovation, but in the eyes of the students, our actions did not. As your school contemplates the why for a makerspace, there is no better testimonial then that of these two young men. 

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