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Thinking About Makerspaces

Our middle school is potentially looking into implementing a makerspace into the library. Thoughts about this are pretty much in the infant stages. I’ve spoken to the librarian who would love to implement one, but hasn’t made much progress yet because of other matters. I’m wanting to team up with her and see what we can develop as a plan.

Currently, our PK-2nd school has a STEAM Lab. Students and teachers use this space to complete activities aligned to standards. It has never been used as a free play space. The ITRT in charge of it works to create design briefs for teachers based on their standards and needs. She demonstrates how to use the lab and how it can fit into the curriculum.

Our 3rd-4th school also has a STEM space. Another ITRT runs that space. It also has not been used for free play, at least this year. She has found it harder to get teachers into and using the lab because they are focused on standards and being prepared for testing.

Both schools have different equipment and ways to use the lab. Some of the ideas in their space would work wonderfully for a middle school makerspace. However, equipment is not really on my mind much. Yes, there are things I’d love to have, but those are pipe dreams, and not tied to any particular goals.

Based on what I’ve researched, we need to meet and decide the goals and outcomes for the space, and how it will be utilized first. I’d like to see it used as both a free play space and as a space where activities tied to standards can be led. My biggest concern though is that the teachers will shun it during class time, as many of them are tied to a unit plan with so many days to address a standard. A lot of project-based learning is brushed aside until around SOL testing because of this. The ultimate vision would be seeing it utilized during free periods and after school, and many times throughout the school day by different teachers to explore, create, and learn.

Once we have goals and outcomes in place, then we can determine items that would meet those goals, as well as funding sources. What I would like to get (as long as it meets goals/outcomes) are things that are open-ended and not a super budget breaker. Then add more to that each year down the road.

There is still a long road ahead, and many ideas to ponder and research before anything concrete can be determined. I’m excited to see where things will end up though!