I had never heard of makerspaces prior to this week. Unfortunately I also missed class and thus missed out on the interactive action that came along with it. Luckily, since classes are recorded I was able to catch up on what I’d missed and also find some more information on my own.
What Are Makerspaces?
According to Jamie Lebon, makerspaces are community workshops where people will pay for a membership to utilize the space and materials that are there to create whatever they want. He explains that it is “kind of like a gym for your mind.”
Positives of Makerspaces in Education
As I mentioned earlier, I have 0 experience with makerspaces, but they do sound super cool! I think that this could be something very useful in an educational/school setting, mainly for high school. Kids love to be creative and try different things so it would be awesome if they could have a space to explore and experiment. According to this article by the National Inventors Hall of Fame there are lots of benefits to having and using makerspaces:
- Makerspaces foster innovation through hands-on experimentation.
- Hands-on learning takes the concepts taught through lecture, video or textbooks and allows participants to move from an abstract concept to a real-world understanding.
- Participants learn how to make failure into a learning experience and not become discouraged or frustrated when something doesn’t go as planned.
- Exposes students to new opportunities.
- Builds critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Develops a wide range of 21st century skills.
Downsides of Makerspaces in Education
Although it seems like makerspaces would be a great addition to schools, there are also some downsides and obstacles that could come along with them. While exploring this topic, I had a few thoughts come to mind. This article also brings up some good points as well. All in all some things to consider might be:
- Space – schools need a physical space to house the makerspace area and supplies. Many schools do not have any extra open rooms, or rooms that are big enough for this type of endeavour.
- Funding- who is going to cover the cost for all the supplies?
- Supplies – we all know that students don’t always treat school supplies respectfully. I imagine the wear and tear on things would be much higher at a school than a public makerspace with adults.
- Training- who is going to train and teach staff how to properly use makerspaces? I understand the concept of them, but still don’t feel as if I could take my class into a room and help guide them purposefully.
- Safety- depending on the tools availible in the space, there may be safety and liability concerns with having these in a school. If using things like 3D printers, we might also want to consider things like copyright laws.
- Assessment- how would we assess what students are doing in the makerspaces? If it is student interest led, how do we connect it to the curriculum?
All in all, I am still not sure if makerspaces are the best in a school setting, espcially elementary. It seems that they would fit quite well with a high school as an elective as high schools generally have more space and the students are a bit more mature and able to utilize tools. I think that many of the great concepts and positives of makerspaces can be brought into the lower grade classroom through activites like STEM and student lead enquiry. I am curious to know if anyone has any experience with having a makerspace in their elementary school?