Jan 14

Getting Started With Our Makerspace

This part two in a series of posts related to the creation of a makerspace at Bayside Middle School.

I wrote in an earlier post about the makerspace that’s beginning to grow at my school. When we started the process of getting this going, one of the biggest things we needed to do was educate ourselves on makerspaces. I have some background information about makerspaces, but probably not enough to really get one started. My colleagues were in the same situation. We took it upon ourselves to read articles, find books, and attend events to learn what we could. We connected with other educators. I actually decided to start using Diigo again as a place to collect articles, links, and blog posts about makerspaces. I knew a library media specialist in a neighboring district who received a grant for their own Education Foundation for makerspaces, so I reached out to her for advice. We have a tour scheduled in the near future to visit a makerspace in a nearby district and are continuously looking for more information to make sure what we’re doing is on track to be great for students. I’ve also contacted several friends who I consider experts in the field for some guidance as well. We’ve worked hard to make sure we’re doing what’s been successful in other places. We feel we’re on the right track.

It’s been about 2 weeks since we’ve “opened” our makerspace. Our plan for the future includes converting a computer lab next to the library into our official makerspace, but for now, we are using section of the library as our current space. Fortunately, the library is rather large and we have room. We removed some computers and tables that weren’t being used in the area to free up room. I don’t know the exact measurements, but it’s probably at least a 25 x 30 space. We’ve set up stations with various activities for the students. We have a Keva planks section, a spot for creating a paper roller coaster, computers to use with Makey Makeys, Ozobots, and iPads and Bloxels. We will be rolling out more stuff in the near future, which will surely excite the kids

The kids are loving it! There’s so much excitement in the library and so much action. Granted, this is something totally new to them and I’m sure the buzz will wear off at some point, but there is rarely a time throughout the day when someone isn’t there building, experimenting, or creating. Lunch recess and study halls are very popular times with students rushing in to maximize their time. The thing that excites me is the general enthusiasm of the students. They are making comments about the library being a cool place. They’re saying it’s fun and not boring. They want to be there. If that’s the mindset of the students, I think we’re off to a good start.