Makerspaces

Since the 60s, Seymour Papert has promoted the power of computers to engage learners and enhance creativity. Having grown up learning Logo and Basic at school, I am thrilled that creating, tinkering and manipulating using computers is making a comeback…ah…education and it’s full circles!! Schools across the globe are creating Makerspaces & arcades inspired by Caine to unleash the creativity of their students and finding that students will happily give up their own free time to continue to work on their own creations. For those of us who are parents, you will truly understand the creative beast that is a toddler/child and for those of us who are teacher/parents, you will understand the “claustrophobia” that a busy curriculum, parent pressure, standardised testing and timetables further imposes upon them. In a world that is craving not for high test performers but creative thinkers and problem solvers, the maker movement is recalibrating an important element of education. At my school, we have worked hard to get the Makerspace off the ground and with each “insert wow” moment we experience with kids, the word of mouth grows. As was expected, we had every “on the spectrum” student plus every “apparent social misfit” in attendance when we first opened and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The lunchtime club was full of like-minded individuals keen to “look under the hood” and willing to take learning risks. We began with Cargo-bot and Hopscotch on the iPad and moved to Lego Mindstorms and Raspberry Pis. All the way, the students lead the learning and controlled the pace. The role of the teacher (when it fell to us and not students) was to throw a spanner in the works of thinking or to provide a learning hand up. From a facilitator point of view, I purchased everything but opened nothing. I left the whole process to the kids and was constantly amazed by how much the kids would ask “are you sure we can do this?” In my mind, the Makerspace was akin to the sandpit for young kids, the right ingredients and the right cooks and no rules applied. The social learning for these students was fantastic and will continue to empower them as the Makerspace becomes more “schoolwide mainstream”. We are planning to run Makey Makey Mario bros competitions and to use the 3D printers to capture the designer within. Watch this space…

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