Your Starter Guide to Maker Spaces by Nicholas Provenzano

3. Where Does a Maker Space Go In a School?

  • The answer is anywhere that works for your school or classroom. They should be public spaces that students can access any time they want. Avoid rooms with regular classes unless they are maker classes as the making can be a bit disruptive. You should also encourage parents to set up maker spaces where they live. In elementary schools, each class can have a mini maker space. Many schools use the media center as it is already a hub for learning. Since you want an adult in the room, the librarian can serve as supervision. (Doug: Some librarians have done this to protect their jobs.) It should be open before and after school and serve as a place where teachers can make things for lessons.

4. Making Allies

  • No one person can make this happen. Start with trying to show teachers and librarians why how a maker space can be valuable. Try to convince the librarian that a maker space will drive traffic to the media center and help it evolve into a full learning center. Tell your administrator that you want to do a pilot project. That will make them seem innovative the potential of some failure is built in. You will need funding that administrators control. They can also help with grant requests.
  • Since students outnumber adults in a school you need to get some of them excited. They can be your strongest allies and drive the growth. With the students on board, the parents won’t be far behind. They can help provide supplies and connect you to local businesses that can provide funding and material. Businesses are usually trying to help schools and they like giving something specific.

5. What Goes in a Maker Space?

  • A maker space isn’t so much about the gadgets in it as it is about the ideas that go into it. Just what it contains will depend on your school and your students so be sure to ask the students what they think should be there. They should give them some ownership. You will certainly need computers of some sort. Network-based Chrome Books are affordable and can do a lot. What they can’t do might be done on a more powerful laptop or an iMac with a big screen. Some students will bring their own unless your school issues one to every student.
  • A good deal of the making will be creating code to control things. Coding tools like Python are free so just get the computers. You may have offer programming courses, but students can teach themselves or take courses online. 3D printers are popular so you will probably want some. Keep in mind they are finding of slow. Beyond that Nick recommends you check out SAM Labs, 3Doodler Pens, littleBits, Makey Makey, Raspberry Pi, Kano, EZ-Robot, and any other gadgets you can come up with. Ideally, you have a budget to purchase things as you realize you need them.
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