Since last year, I've been diving into the world of Making. It has been exciting and it has also been a large amount of extra work, but it matters. I just wanted to share a few stories as to why it matters so much.
My librarian and I have worked together to create an open Makerspace for students to use in the library. It is available to students to use before school, during lunch, during study halls, and after school whenever the library is open. The idea is to give students access to tools on their own to see what they will create. It is meant to be student driven with some nudging from teachers to encourage students to explore different things. We have a 3D printer, Makey Makey kits, Chromebooks, and are stocking the space with more goodies based on student requests. To use the space, the students have to attend and orientation that covers the different tools available and the use of the space.
Solving Meaningful Problems
Here is a picture of a student using the dry erase wall to start her design process. She has an issue with her knee. Her kneecap does not stay in place. It moves around and can be very painful and tough. She is an athlete and has not found anything to help her with this issue. When she came to the Makerspace, she jumped into solving this issue for her. She was working on designs and is close to a prototype of this new brace. She says that there are many people that deal with this condition and she wants to help those people with her creation. She has spent her time working on this project and has said that the space has allowed her to think about this issue and explore possible solutions. She would not have been able to do this without a space that encouraged her to explore a solution to her problem.
This is a great picture of two students who have been spending their lunch time sitting in the Makerspace trying to do something good. They are trying to design a prosthetic hoof for horses. Off all of the things that I expected to see in the space, this never crossed my mind. That is what makes the space so amazing! Students are going to create and do things that we could never imagine and that is what learning is all about. They have spent time researching and diving into the world of assisted technology to see what they would need to do to create this device for horses. I can't wait to see their 3D designs and printed models. Their passion for this project exceeds anything else they are currently working on in school.
I run the orientations for the Makerspace. I meet with the students in groups and go over the different things they need to know about using the space. On two different days, I worked 1:1 with two young ladies that were interested in the space. Both of them were very excited about doing different things and even had ideas for projects. There were two comments that stood out to me when I was talking to them separately.
Girl 1: This is heaven for me. I finally have someplace to go and think about all of the things I want to do. Then, I can do them!
Girl 2: I finally feel like I fit in. I felt weird about liking this type of stuff (making stuff, technology, etch.), but not anymore.
It was tough holding back the tears and the want to give them a huge hug. Everything I had hoped for the Makerspace to do, was happening and these two young ladies put words to it. I wanted to create a space for students to come, tinker, create, and most of all, just be themselves. These students made me feel like I was winning education on those days.
Making Matters because it gives students, all students, a space to explore the world that our rigid curriculum does not cover. It gives them a community of like-minded people to explore the world. It provides them access to tools they will not use in any other class. It shows them they are not alone in wanting to get their hands dirty and just make something.
We give our students a sandbox and toys to be creative and play when they are younger, but we take that all away as they age. For my high school students, the Makerspace is the new sandbox and I want them to come in, play, create, and most of all, get their hands dirty.
Please share your stories of why Making Matters in the comments section below.
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