A makerspace is a place where people work on projects, network and ultimately, build cool stuff.
In schools, they help students develop their skills and creativity, inspiring young learners to engage with the STEAM agenda – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and the Arts. As Dale Dougherty, considered by some to be the founder of the maker movement, explains to The New York Times:
“It’s this sort of creative process of taking an idea, developing it, using tools and techniques to make it real.”
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact on the future of work dawns, governments and educators are banking on makerspaces to promote high-end technology skills in a bid to future-proof students and workers alike. Others who are more skeptical on its revolutionary nature, believe it could serve at as a powerful antidote to the rote learning method that has dominated education systems for decades.
Whichever side you’re on, projects that have emerged from makerspaces have been nothing short of awesome. Here are some of our favourites from schools around the world:
1. Montour Elementary School – Pennsylvania, US
Working with Carnegie Mellon University and Lego Education, the K-4 school created the “Brick Makerspace” to integrate principles of STEAM education throughout the curriculum. Themed on LEGO bricks, the space hosts activities like brick-building, 3D printing, car racing, stop-motion animation and even an interactive mixed reality system that lets students build structures and test their physical properties.
2. Red Oaks School – New Jersey, US
A pioneer of the makerspace concept for elementary and middle school students, this private school in New Jersey is now home to a collaborative studio space — a combination lab, shop and informal learning center — and is well supplied with tools and materials of every description, from cardboard and glue to power tools and 3D printers. Here, even first-year students are able to set up an electrical circuit that lit up LED light bulbs and even built a battery tester by initiating electrolysis, generating discussion about how important it is to recycle batteries so they don’t end up in the ocean.
3. Shenzhen American International School – Shenzhen, China
At Shekou’s premier project-based learning school, students aren’t just people who sit behind desks and listen to teachers. They’re called “mini-makers” and “life-long learners”, driven by a mission to create projects that “solve problems and contribute progress to the community”. Some cool projects they’ve worked on include second-graders opening an arcade made from recycled materials, third-graders making furniture to improve their learning environment and fourth-graders building a Peruvian instrument called Cajone.
4. Halcyon London International School – London, UK
Exploration classes run three days a week per term at Halcyon London International School. Teachers choose a subject they love and want to pass their knowledge on to students, from alternative realities to music production and makerspace exploration. “It really made me smarter, more creative, think outside the box,” one student said. Another spoke about having to create a piano from bananas, a project that they described as one that “enhanced creativity”.
5. Zurich International School – Zurich, Switzerland
Student STEAM Success Stories, sponsored by #ZISAnnualFund: the ECC Mini Makerspace opened on Friday! Filled with coding games, mini robots, sand tray machines and lots of Lego and building blocks! #ZISLearns pic.twitter.com/egTm9hYGkY
— ZIS – Zurich International School (@ZISnews) October 8, 2018
Creating scenery, props and costumes for a theatre play? Check. Making robots and cameras? Check. Building a wind-powered light? Check. The students at Zurich International School (ZIS) are one enterprising bunch thanks to the teachers and tools at their disposal. The makerspace fits into ZIS’s education philosophy, which emphasises the use of education technology. EdTech gets an early introduction at ZIS, with students as young as those in their Early Childhood Center and Lower School getting iPads to use in the classroom.
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