Getting a makerspace up and running can be both simple and challenging. If you start small, rolling out the concept in your classroom or library can be manageable. We were looking for a bigger splash for a variety of reasons, but also knew this would make the process more challenging. We know we want to create a maker culture in the building and not just throw out a bunch of stuff and see what happens. Changing the culture is not a quick process, but in order to begin, you need to have the stuff so teachers and stakeholders can see the impact on student learning.
Heading into our presentation with the Education Foundation, who we were hoping would fund most of the start-up costs, we needed to put together a wishlist of sorts. We definitely wanted technology to play a big part in the makerspace, but we also wanted to have low-tech or no-tech stations available as well. Again, research played a big role in deciding what would be good for our students. We were putting together wish lists for both an elementary school and a middle school, so keeping in mind the age of students was important. In addition, the space available at the middle school was readily available so we could think bigger. Fortunately, many of the people involved in putting together this list were aware of many makerspace items. If we saw something we were unfamiliar with, we learned more about it.
Fortunately, we received the go ahead in late November to start ordering materials. This allowed us to get our orders placed and have quite of bit of stuff arrive prior to winter break so we could have a “soft opening” of our space when students returned in January. Below is what we decided would be included in the first stage of our makerspace in out middle school.
- Ollies – We didn’t go with Spheros because I’ve used them in the past and had more connectivity issues that I did with the Ollies. Other educators I spoke with felt the same way.
- Keva Planks – We knew these would be a hit and that kids could easily show their creativity with the blocks.
- Paper Roller Coasters – I saw these at the ICE Conference and thought they were great. I loved the idea that many students would be collaborating on this together and it would be easy to just keep growing.
- Makey Makeys – We ordered several of these knowing students would have a great time controlling the computer via the devices.
- Bloxels – If a student can create something that turns into a video game, we figured it would be a hit.
- Lego Wall – Middle school kids still love legos. We ordered a bunch of lego plates and our custodian built and installed the lego wall.
- Ozobots – These little robots have turned out to be super fun for the students. The students are creating fun mazes and maps for the ozobots to follow.
- Little Bits – We have a variety of these kits that allow students to connect various electronic blocks that can make sounds, light up, count, and more.
- Mandala coloring pages – Students love to color and be creative. These pages will meet that need and hopefully provide decoration for our makerspace.
- 3Doodler Pens – These have been ordered, but haven’t arrived yet. It will be interesting to see what students create with these 3D pens.
- We also have quite a bit of clay and Play Doh for students to use to create stop motion videos or other multimedia projects. Related to this, we purchased several new tripods and iPad mounts for filming purposes.
- We also purchased several new iPads and two new Macbook Pros for recording and editing media projects.
We clearly understand that we are just starting and that adjustments will need to be made to the stations. Some areas will be very interesting and successful for the students and some won’t. New items will pop up and we will have to do our due diligence in deciding whether or not these should be added to our space. We will definitely get suggestions and feedback from the students and the staff to find ways to improve our space. The ball is rolling, it’s up to us to keep it moving in the right direction.