You might have probably heard some of the hype about the benefits of makerspaces in the educational community. If you were interested in creating one for your community but unsure where to start, use this guide to learn the basics about makerspaces.
WHAT IS A MAKERSPACE?
Broadly, a makerspace is an area in the educational community that relies on the philosophy that constructionism- the application of learning principles through a hands-on learning environment, is the way to go.
They can be anything from space in a community environment—a library, community center, private organization, or campus. Expert advisors may be available some of the time, but often novices get help from other users.
Primarily, makerspaces are designated for engineering, computer science, and graphic design and are ground zero for technological experimentation. Makerspaces, then, are great ways for schools and communities to provide students with tools to get into and flourish in STEM subjects.
DECIDING WHICH MAKERSPACE ACTIVITIES TO SELECT
The decision of choosing activities – based on what you are already working with, or, if you are starting with a complete clean slate, can use feedback from your school community to decide– for a makerspace, dictate where your space will go and what tools and equipment you will have to invest in.
Some good ideas for a range of activities available for creative work in makerspaces are :
- Cardboard construction
- Digital fabrication
- Building bicycles and kinetic machines
- Textiles and sewing
WHERE TO INSTALL A MAKERSPACE?
Most communities find school libraries to work as the best place for makerspaces because they, typically, have ample room to host the new space. You can, certainly, design a makerspace for your classroom, but if space is limited, you can scale the grandeur of your makerspace back a bit.
A makerspace can be a small area of the classroom or even just projects that are integrated into the curriculum. You can learn by doing and enjoy the opportunity to share what you make with others. Who knows what career interests might be discovered?
HOW TO GET SUPPLIES?
RESOURCES NEAR YOU: Since Makerspaces thrive on the involvement of the community, let the community know your group's intentions to develop a makerspace and do not be afraid to ask for help getting resources.
Let the PTA, the faculty, and other community members know about your efforts and ask for any kind of contribution to the space through a concise and reasonable list of needed items.
CROWDFUNDING is another way to ask the much larger educational community to help out. You can always use sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe to let others know your clearly defined goals and need for contributions.
RENTING AND SECONDHAND TOOLS: Look into used equipment and check out discount offerings for expensive tools like laser cutter and 3D printers.
Few spaces can afford to buy all the equipment they want, especially at retail price. Used equipment and tool donations can be a big help. Some equipment makers will offer discounts to educational and non-profit groups. Tool rental or leasing is also an option for larger equipment.
WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, CREATE A BLOG
When your makerspace is up and running, creating a blog, to detail the cool things your community has accomplished within the spaces. Doing this is a great way to document the success of it all and showcase your collective progress.
Although the makerspace movement is catching on and reports say that makerspace will soon be in 20 percent of classrooms, there are very few out there that are well-documented and circulated to serve as examples for other educators trying to get on board. So, by easily creating a blog, not only will you be helping fellow students, you will also be helping students everywhere.