How to Build a Makerspace in Your Classroom or Library
School is full swing. For students, that means hitting the books, losing the pencils, catching up with friends, and navigating a new teacher's expectations. It might also mean getting to tinker away in a makerspace.
image credit: Dreamyshade
Makerspaces have sprung up around the world during the last several years as places where kids and adults can go to problem-solve, hack, create, explore, and make things with their own two hands. These things include furniture, clothing, art, video games, robots, and devices of varying usefulness—if you can think of it, you can make it.
Why are makerspaces important? They’re a chance to encourage kids to think creatively and critically. No one is leaning over them saying, “You must make this device using these materials with this process.” Instead, they’re deciding what to build and why, and even how to build it. Educators and researchers agree that these are valuable skills that kids will need in the future. Here are some of the things kids learn in makerspaces:
- to try again after your idea meets with failure
- improving on a product is just as crucial as inventing it
- no idea is too ridiculous to try
- imagination is as important as knowledge
- how to use tools
- your first version is almost never your final version
What can you do to promote makerspace activities in your classroom or library? If you have an area that you can dedicate as a makerspace, that’s the easiest way to ensure that the supplies are kept where kids will have easy access to them. It can also help students get into a maker mindset quickly and easily. When they sit down at that makerspace table, they know exactly what’s expected of them for the next block of time.
You can also keep a set of drawers that are specifically for makerspace supplies. For a list of great makerspace supplies, check out our free ebook on how to build a makerspace. Try to have a designated makerspace time every week when the supplies can come out and kids can get creative. It might be tempting to skip this time—you’ve got a lot to accomplish in those few hours of class time! But you’ll find that kids are refreshed and re-engaged with learning after an hour or so of being encouraged to use their hands and brains together to find solutions to problems.
Some communities have public makerspaces where people can go to use equipment and tools they might not have at home or at school, such as a 3-D printer or power saw. If you have community makerspaces near you, check to see if they allow school and homeschool groups to visit.
The most important part of a makerspace is giving kids the time and supplies they need to find their own way. It's what will serve them well as they make their way further into academics, and it's probably what they'll remember most fondly.