Saturday, December 14, 2019

Woodshop 2.0 #MakerEd #PBL

One of the things that has been an interesting part of my evolution as an Makerspace Director is the popularity of the trade skills among students. It should not be surprising though. So many of us grew up with access to a woodshop class, metals class, auto tech class, or something similar. As school shifted toward testing and state requirements and the idea that college graduation was the only path to success, those classes vanished. Like most things, we are seeing a shift back to what worked before.

When I give tours of the Makerspace to parents, they are not quite sure what to make of it. When I tell them it is like Woodshop 2.0, it clicks for them. They always share their stories from taking those classes and lament the fact that students don't have the same change to take them anymore. That's where I come in and tell them all of the amazing things that happen in our space.

Our Makerspace is all about creating opportunities for students to learn by doing. By going back to the basics of education, our students have been learning skills that will serve them well beyond an educational settings. Students are applying their geometry and other math skills while building things out of wood, using the laser cutter, CNC machine, or 3D printer. By giving students the chance to build to demonstrate understanding of classroom concepts, they are also learning back tool skills. The number of high school seniors that do not know ow to use a drill is too dang high!

I'm lucky to have an apprentice in the Makerspace this year. She has been working hard on her capstone project to create a woodworking class and I have been teaching her different techniques and how to use different tools. Teaching her the design process and the research process has been awesome. One thing she recognized very early in her work is that there are very few women that do woodworking. She was also very frustrated by the marketing of pink tools for ladies as if they are suited for women. All that nonsense fueled her desire to be a role model for the younger students at school. She showcases her work to any of the middle school students that watch her work in the Makerspace and answers all of their questions. It is an awesome thing to hear young girls talk about their want to learn woodworking.

As educators, we do not need to reinvent the wheel. Woodshop exists and can be brought back to your school in some small version through your Makerspace. People talk about wanting engage students and focus on skills, but they are ignoring these types of trade skills that have value. By supporting them in school, it shows kids that these skills are valued in our community.

If you want more info on our Makerspace, reach out to me at or come and see me presenting at FETC, TCEA, MACUL, and Spring CUE in the coming months.

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