ISTE Coaching Standard & Indicator 1d: Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms.
I am thrilled that my vision to bring Makerspaces to more schools in the district is materializing. At the beginning of the year, two elementary librarians approached me to help them bring their Makerspace concepts to fruition. We communicated and read about purpose and rationale for Makerspaces. Together we evaluated the space, the schedule, and what were realistic outcomes for them as Makerspace leaders and their students. We swapped Pinterest pages and loads of websites to get ideas of what seemed like reasonable design challenges and maker activities that would fit schedules, interests, and student needs. With support from schools’ PTAs and the district foundation, they received grant money to purchase supplies. They both followed a succinct plan, ordered and managed material, plus developed a schedule that they advertised with teachers and students, and finally invited all students in to become makers. The Maker movement has become sustainable at their schools. We look forward to growth next year!
At another school, a dedicated instructor who lives the Maker movement in her personal and professional life collaborated with me to bring an after school Makerspace Club to students at her school. The above video shows how it’s been embraced. The following is our grant proposal that was accepted to develop a school Makerspace.
School’s Foundation Grant Proposal
Makerspace Monday is an after school program for students in grades 2-6. Makerspaces are places for people to create, invent, tinker, learn, and share resources. The first six weeks will be for students in grades 4-6, followed by a 5-week session aimed at students in grades 2 and 3. For students at Echo Lake, each week will have a focus area based on the STEAM acronym– Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math– that will allow them to delve into deeper learning and experience. For science, students will experiment with Squishy Circuits, a system that allows for experimenting with electricity through circuitry and highly conductive play dough. Technology will involve programing a robotic Ozobot with pens to draw and design their own games. Students will use LEGOs, popsicle sticks, and cup stacking to solve engineering and design challenges. When it comes to art, students will have access to a variety of materials including a DIY cutting system. Students design and die-cut decals, which they can take home. The math theme has students manipulating geometric Magnatiles for spatial problem-solving tasks, logical thinking and math reasoning. Creating and experimenting with these unique manipulatives provide stimulus and right-side brain training through creative play and leads from two-dimensional to advanced 3-D thinking patterns.
Is this a request to continue an existing program? Please comment on the history and who funded the program.
This request is to start an original after school program, with our goal being to offer it every year as well as provide a foundation for incorporating Makerspaces in the library and/or classrooms during the school day.
What is special about this project that has captured your interest?
The idea for Makerspace Monday grew out of the popularity of mini-Makerspace bins created for lunch recess which are five themed kits that rotate throughout the week. They’re available for students in grades 2-6 to use at a new playground table during lunch recess. We want to expand the concept of hands-on creativity and learning. The after school Makerspace Monday allows us to have more students participate, gives them more freedom to experiment without classroom time constraints and provides them access to a learning environment with a STEAM focus.
We believe this project will shape 21st Century learners. We believe that to be able to compete in the future job market, our students need to develop creative confidence now. Most likely our students will be working in careers we haven’t even heard of yet. This is where 21st Century Learning Skills come in. Using the Partnership for 21st Century Learning framework, we define 21st Century Learning Skills as the 4C’s: The ability for students to use Communication, Collaboration, Critical thinking and Creativity to analyze and solve problems. We argue there should be a 5th C, Curiosity too. While the term Makerspace may be trending now, it’s always been a part of what we’ve had in our own homes—the freedom, time, and materials for children to experiment and create. What we realized through working with students at Echo Lake, is not all children have that. Makerspace Monday fosters creative confidence: allowing students to use curiosity, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking skills while giving them access to a wide variety of materials and resources they might not have at home. This also allows sharing of technology and supplies that are too expensive for families or teachers to buy individually.
Who will be involved in this project or using these item(s)?
MakerSpace Mondays will be facilitated by Karen Kessinger, para-educator at Echo Lake and Ann Hayes-Bell, district Technology Integration Specialist with students in the above listed grades.
If grant is a school-wide project/program, how was it decided upon?
Makerspace Mondays is an after school program for students in grades 2-6 experimenting with developmentally appropriate materials and supplies. The program runs 45 minutes a week for six weeks. With a second session (5 weeks) offered in late spring. Because this is a new program offering, we decided a small group of students in this age range would be most efficient in developing a model for incorporating Makerspaces in the school day. For example, Squishy Circuits connect to the 4th grade science unit on Electricity. Ozobots & magnatiles support sequential thinking, logical reasoning standards in math and science.
Is all staff participating?
The staff listed above is participating as facilitators. We encourage all staff to advertise Makerspace Monday with all students. Our proposal was approved by Echo Lake principal. We encourage the Echo Lake staff to use the resources for their science and math instruction.
In addition to gaining specific skills and concepts, what broader/long-term impact will participation in this project or acquiring this item(s) have on students? How will impact be measured?
Our hope is that Makerspace Monday will open up an avenue allowing students to connect theoretical concepts taught in the classroom with real world hands-on STEAM exploration. We believe experiences like Makerspace Monday will change the way students think about problem solving, adding creativity to solving problems as well as approaching their lessons more engaged and with a deeper sense of scientific inquiry. We plan to measure our impact through end of session exit-tickets and Google Form surveys. We will also measure the success of the program as students share their learning with others at the Shoreline STEM festival.
Are other funding sources available? Will this project proceed or item(s) be purchased if funding is not received? (List all other sources/organizations where funding is also being requested and/or received.)
Other funding sources being pursued include asking parents for donations of items as well as asking the greater community through “buy nothing, gift everything” types of groups on social media plus using items from the Echo Lake PTA. Specific items include LEGO design books, LEGOs, Cricut die-cut machine, paper, popsicle sticks, and more. If this project is only partially funded, it is likely that we will scale back the activities or seek out alternative sources for materials.
Will there be an opportunity to view the project or is there a culminating event?
We welcome members of the Shoreline Public Schools Foundation to visit a MakerSpace Monday. Photos will be taken of students during the activity. These will be used for the students’ end-of-project collaborative display and the digital slideshow in Echo Lake’s entryway. Our MakerSpace Monday group plans to exhibit our work at the Shoreline STEM Festival & Science Fair. Parents will also be invited to see students’ work.
How will you communicate/publicize to your school community?
Students will be invited to register for the after school activity as part of the school’s activity guide. It is a printed catalog of after school offerings. We will also have “make and take” promotional materials for students during their lunch periods. Publicizing Makerspace Monday will also include sending home flyers in “kid mail,” hallway and bulletin board displays as well as email blasts as appropriate by the school.