Some have legos, cardboard and art supplies. Others contain 3D printers, laser cutters and robots. All are considered makerspaces, and they are becoming more and more prevalent in schools and other facilities around the world. According to Makerspaces.com, “a makerspace is a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools.” They are being used to offer hands-on learning, foster critical thinking skills and develop 21st century skills (Makerspaces.com, 2018b).
Schools around the world continue to transform classrooms, libraries and other areas into makerspaces. One of the greatest parts of makerspaces is that they can be created virtually anywhere. Students are creating both simple and complex gadgets, from grades K-12, all of which are emphasizing the application of learning. The supplies involved vary from makerspace to makerspace and greatly depend on the ages of the students involved. Items such as LEGOs are particularly useful for younger children while small motors and robots are great for older students (Makerspaces.com, 2018a). There are also many apps and websites that allow students to code, design and create. Lastly, makerspaces will likely need to include consumable materials such as cardboard, tape, batteries, glue and paper (Makerspaces.com, 2018a).
In addition to hosting a variety of materials, makerspaces can be used to create an infinite number of projects. Students at an elementary school in Illinois designed and coded their own video game (Gohl, 2017). An elementary school in Florida has a deconstruction zone where students can disassemble old toys and electronics (Gohl, 2017). Makerspaces can be used for both digital and non-digital activities. The projects can be big or small and can include both creation and destruction, as students often learn just as much from taking things apart as they do when putting them together. Teachers and librarians report that students are not only having a lot of fun, but that they are also becoming more inquisitive and learning a great deal of information.
These makerspaces are proving to be extremely beneficial in aiding students’ understanding in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). However, the benefits do not end there. At Wilson Elementary School in California, English language learners are showing a different type of growth. Their makerspace is providing a safe place to practice speaking English while their journaling about the experience offers an opportunity to work on written language (Maio, 2016). In addition, students learn problem solving and perseverance through creation (Lynch, 2017). The hands-on activities allow them to stay engaged and focused. They also facilitate the real world application of knowledge, provoke further investigations and spark student interest (Lynch, 2017).
With all of the benefits of makerspaces, it is no wonder they are becoming more prevalent in schools around the world. As more technology related careers are developed, the skills that students obtain by working in makerspaces become crucial for their future. The hands-on approach to learning is keeping students engaged and as a result, it is facilitating learning. Since these spaces seem to help teachers and students meet the primary goals of education, it would not be surprising if all schools or even all classrooms soon contain makerspaces.
Gohl, E. (2017, November 6). The case for school makerspaces, according to those who use them. Getting Smart. Retrieved from http://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/11/the-case-for-school-makerspaces-according-to-those-who-use-them/
Lynch, M. (2017, January 21). 10 reasons to create makerspaces in your school. The Tech Edvocate. Retrieved from http://www.thetechedvocate.org/10-reasons-to-create-makerspaces-in-your-school/
Maio, P. (2016, November 30). ‘Makerspaces’ for science instruction also proving helpful for English learners. EdSource: Highlighting Strategies for Student Success. Retrieved from https://edsource.org/2016/makerspaces-for-science-instruction-also-proving-helpful-for-english-learners/572782
Makerspaces.com (2018a). 100+ makerspace products and materials. Makerspaces.com. Retrieved from https://www.makerspaces.com/makerspace-materials-supply-list/
Makerspaces.com (2018b). What is a makerspace? Makerspaces.com. Retrieved from https://www.makerspaces.com/what-is-a-makerspace/