I recall being a freshman in college in my first education class and hearing the professor mention the word pedagogy. I thought to myself about how it was a funny word, but I had no idea what it meant. Little did I know that pedagogy would soon become a word that I would not only know but use on a regular basis. Education has always been an evolving field, and eve more so with the promises technology brings. New pedagogies emerge into the field and bring with them new ways of best practices. One such example is that of a Maker Space.
“A makerspace is a physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build” (Educause, 2013, p.1) The first makerspaces were developed completely removed from an education setting; however, soon spaces could be found in colleges and universities. The idea behind these makerspaces was a push for self-directed learning, where community environment is key. At the college level, advisors may be available, but the push is for you to interact with peers. These spaces were areas for prototyping designs with supplies available for use. The fields most notable for utilizing makerspaces were engineering, computer science, and graphic design.
As I read about makerspaces and the impact for education, Stager, G said it best it shows children that nothing is impossible (2014). As makerspaces continue to evolve and develop, they can be found in other classrooms. For example, sixth through eighth graders designing video games or building robots during their lunch hour. “Children should engage in tinkering and making because it is a powerful way to learn” (Stager, G., 2014, p.1). Every classroom has the potential to become a makerspace and watch as students are benefited.
Research shows that long-term projects, like students designing wearable technology, is more effective for students (Stager, G., 2014). When you walk into a makerspace you find active classrooms and engaged students. Further, it helps students who learn best by doing and promotes a multidisciplinary approach to both thinking and learning (Educause, 2013). Much like the Flipped Classrooms, students are able to take control of their learning and in turn become more involved in what they learn. Students are able to take ownership over what they create and design.
In creating a makerspace, the best thing you can do is start by having students make something, which can be something simple (Stager, G., 2014). The first idea that came into my head in regards to designing something was the ol’ egg drop, where students are given supplies and they are tasked with designing a protective cover so that an egg would not break upon dropping from a specified height. Other helpful tips include asking for help, imaging the best, but budgeting for the worst, and knowing that you are not alone (Rubenstein, M., 2014).
I can see many positive benefits to implementing makerspaces in classrooms. I know many of my students who would be engaged in such projects, especially since the ideas are already in their head. I do have concerns about my younger students, especially some who come from elsewhere and seem to have lost their creativity. I have some who need very specific directions in order to complete a task, and still others who are not confident in their abilities as a learner. In my mind, the hope is that if I chose to incorporate the makerspace pedagogy in my classroom, it might help the students conquer these insecurities or difficulties.
Educause. (2013). Makerspaces. 7 Things You Should Know About. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7081.pdf
Rubenstein, M. (2014, August 4). How to make a makerspace: six things you don’t realize you should know before getting started. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from http://makezine.com/magazine/make-40/how-to-make-a-makerspace/
Stager, G. (2014). What’s the maker movement and why should I care? Retrieved June 8, 2015, from http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3758336