- Did you need "approval" for beginning your makerspace? If so, who was involved?
- Where was your makerspace? Did it consume the entire library? Was there a space dedicated to the makerspace?
- If your makerspace is in your library, what do you do when you have classes that come in for research or other traditional "library" things? Do you close the makerspace?
- Who supervised the makerspace? Was it always the librarian? If not, who else? Do you have an aide that helps out? What about student helpers?
- When is your makerspace open? Before school? After school? Study hall? Do students come throughout the day? If you operate on a fixed schedule, is the makerspace a part of your instruction?
- Did you ever put limits on the amount of students that could use the makerspace? If so, how did you decide? Was this out of necessity due to space limitations or so that you could ensure you had enough supplies?
- If you were limited in space, how did you decide what to feature in your makerspace? Did you have weekly or monthly themes?
- How was your makerspace funded? Grants? PTO? Fundraisers? If it came out of your budget, how did you budget for the "newest" tools over a year in advance? How did you budget for consumables (i.e. yarn, duct tape)?
- What was in your makerspace?
In attempt to make it easier for those of just beginning your makerspace, I will do my best to answer all of these questions. Basically, these are all the questions I hunted people like @DianaLRendina, @gravescollen, @LFleminigEDU and @NancyJoLambert to answer. Unfortunately, I'm still trying to answer some of these myself. Turns out, you'll never be "done" with your makerspace.
I'm going to let that last sentence sink in a bit.
That's right. Never.
Students change, teachers change, interests change and therefore, so does your space. We've only had our makerspace operational for just over a year and we've changed a lot. Though the changes, we've realized where we need to focus more attention and resources, and we've been able to realize what's working and what isn't. As you're reading through this information, please remember that there is no "perfect" makerspace and sometimes, things are out of your control (i.e. time, access, budget, etc.). There are many makerspaces out there that I would love to replicate. Or would I? I have different students with different interests and personalities. Therefore, my makerspace should be made specifically for them.
[If you are looking for specific projects that we've done in our makerspace, just keep checking the blog. I'm trying my best to manage life and regularly post about our creations.]
Before I get into answering specific questions about our makerspace, here is some general background (and photos) of our school library before the makerspace. Hopefully this will help put some things in context.
Hershey Middle School Profile:
- 6-8 grades, approximately 900 students
- 1 full time librarian (me) and 1 full time library aide
- Library operates on a flexible schedule for classes
- 1:1 school with iPads
- Students have "flex" period (study hall) at one of three times during the day (this is our busy time). Flex times are specific to a grade level, meaning, I see all 6th grade at one time, and 7th at another. The only time kids see each other during flex is if they choose to come during their lunch which overlaps with another grade's flex.
Did you need "approval" for beginning your makerspace? If so, who was involved?
Hmmm... Approval? Sort of. I knew going into this position that they were anxious about bringing a makerspace to our school, but it was still essential that I keep administration in the loop as I built it. I worked very closely with my Director of Infrastructure Technology (@dsweigert), my Director of Instructional Technology (@tlandry) and my Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction (@winslost). First thing we did was develop a mission, mission, and a plan. We made this document during the summer of 2015. Feel free to use and adapt as you'd like.
Where was your makerspace? Was it spread out throughout the library or was there a dedicated space?
The answer to this question has changed several times and will most likely be changing again due to needs. The pictures below depict how I originally envisioned the makerspace. I took pictures of the space and used Google Drawings to mock up our space. This was right next to our LEGO Wall and the kids dubbed the space the "Creative Corner". I thought it was awesome. Except none of this happened. Why? Read next question.
Look How Organized!!
And then the kids came...
The Happy Medium
If your makerspace is in your library, what do you do when you have classes that come in for research or other traditional "library" things? Do you close the makerspace?
Who supervised the makerspace? Was it always the librarian? If not, who else? Do you have an aide that helps out? What about student helpers?
- I don't need to be there in order for the kids to use the makerspace.
- Kids aren't limited to just the projects or challenges I organize.
- Kids can focus on what they're interested in and showcase their genius.
- Some tools aren't intuitive and kids need an "orientation". [I tried putting QR codes to YouTube videos but the kids aren't really using them]
- Some projects dominate the makerspace. When we were building our augmented reality sandbox, it took up nearly the entire makerspace for a solid two weeks.
When is your makerspace open? Before school? After school? Study hall? Do students come throughout the day? If you operate on a fixed schedule, is the makerspace a part of your instruction?
- A math teacher used Dash and Dot and Sphero to play soccer.
- A science teacher encouraged students to design something on the 3D printer when doing a variables project.
- Another science teacher encouraged students to design a 3-blade propeller to test whether it would make the rubber band airplane fly better than the 2-blade propeller.
- We did a Make Writing activity where we incorporated some of the makerspace elements into writing workshop?
Did you ever put limits on the amount of students that could use the makerspace? If so, how did you decide? Was this out of necessity due to space limitations or so that you could ensure you had enough supplies?
Most of our limitations are in place because of space. We just don't have the room to allow more students, but I don't ever set a limit. If they want to jam 40 students in a 10x10 space, go for it (and trust me, they try). Other times, the kids will come, see its crammed and come back later.