Thing 24: Makerspaces

Since taking my position as school librarian in Averill Park I’ve heard a lot about Makerspaces and while it sounds great, I haven’t been able to envision how it could be a part of my school library.  Our program schedule is not flexible enough to allow students time during the school day to work on a tinker project.

When I began to investigate Thing 24, I read that most K12 libraries use Makerspaces as an afterschool club.  This is the only way I could offer the space to all students equitably.  The statement alone also made me feel like a Makerspace is doable.  It has been a true struggle to find teachers willing to collaborate during flex time allowed in my schedule, so a Makerspace felt out of the question.  Now, I want to do it!

I used the article 6 Things to Consider Before Starting Your Makerspace to do some initial brainstorming on what my Makerspace could look like for next year.  I recently heard it referred to as Tinker Time and I like how that sounds better… I would probably call it Tinker Time.

  1. List the hopes and dreams you have for your Tinker Time:
    1. That students have a chance to ask questions and attempt to answer them.
    2. Students use their hands to manipulate material and supplies to create and build.
    3. Students gain some real-world knowledge and skills applicable across other content areas.
  2. Define Skills, Knowledge, and Habits students will have in space:
    1. Asking questions.
    2. Developing a trial and error plan to test and retest.
    3. The ability to find supportive resources.
  3. Define the culture for the space:
    1. This is an elementary school library, we will use safe tools and supplies.  Together, on the first day we will come up with a list of rules/expectations for a cooperative learning space.  These might include: How to share.  How to offer ideas.  How to accept failure and try again.
  4. Determine integration points into curriculum:
    1. I will use items or videos to trigger student questions.

Ideas for projects and supplies necessary.

How many pennies can your boat hold and still float? (Students think of supplies… cardboard, tape, bubble wrap, etc.)

How high can you drop an egg without it breaking? (cardboard, straws, tape, etc.)

Can you build a bridge out of toothpicks?  How much weight will it hold? (toothpicks, glue, etc.)

I liked Lewis and Clark Elementary School’s Makerspace page.  It has many ideas and seems as though anything goes.  In order for me to follow through with a Makerspace, I would need to feel as though students were tinkering with some goal in mind.  At the end of a session, I would hope they had some sort of a completed project or new understanding.  I don’t want the Makerspace to turn into a free play time with legos or websites.  We also don’t have extra funds to purchase supplies, so I think my Makerspace would start with a few basic materials like cardboard, glue, tape, and other things I can get for very little cost.

I have cabinets in my library that are not used very often.  It is the only place I think I could put a Makerspace.  I will push a rectangular table against the cabinets for students to store their projects.  Other supplies could go into the cabinets.  I am also hoping that by the time I begin my Makerspace I will have a few extra tablets for students to use if they would like to use an app like Lego Movie.  I also had an opportunity to play with Little Bits earlier this spring.  They would be great in a Makerspace but costly.  Another thought would be to tie in a 3D printer but again, we could only get it on loan for a month.

These are my initial thoughts on a Makerspace.  I look forward to trying it next fall!



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