A fixerspace as well as a makerspace

We have had a Makerspace at my school for a few months now and although it started slowly (mainly due to kids not knowing what the educational jargon of Makerspace actually meant), it has grown in popularity and in richness.  The best things the kids have made is great friendships and this is no mean feat considering many of these students generally struggle when it comes to social interaction.  I have marveled at their passion for creating and their unbelievable skill.  I have written a post previously about our Makerspace (you can find it here) and in this post I talked about how I purchased everything and opened nothing.  This is about letting the students own the whole process.  This has definitely been a shift for some students and they are now fully on board.  The below story is a perfect example.

In the area of 3D printing, we have been exploring Thingiverse to download existing 3D models and using Google Sketchup with the STL plugin to create our own 3d models.  The 3D printer definitely has the wow factor and even though it is just a entry level model, the students are fixated and desperate to print their own model to take home.  With all the interest, the 3D printer has most definitely been working over time.  That was until a little while back when it just stopped working.  It would turn on, load a model, initialise but then not much else.  One of the other two teachers that I run the Makerspace with, made contact with the supplier and this led to an even richer maker experience…fixing.  Below is the email reply that was sent back.

Screenshot 2015-03-16 21.54.36

You really have to love a company that wishes to empower their client base to be a part of their own solution.  The below email was then sent through to me by my colleague.  For those that know me, you would know which call I made.

The motor arrived two weeks ago and the students were flabbergasted to find out that we weren’t joking when we told them that they would be installing the motor.  They were very apprehensive initially but worked together to take off the back plate, remove the power supply and then work towards installing the new motor.  When they were at the installation phase, they realised that the motor was the wrong motor.  We sent it back and then tried again.  We are still a work in progress but what progress we are making.  The empowerment of fixing something that was broken has led them to diagnose issues with the plate not heating up properly and about the importance of calibration.  They don’t wait for cues to have a go, they just jump in.  They trust their collective judgement and boy are they not afraid to let each other know their opinion. Most importantly they are smiling all the way.  The Maker/Fixerspace is my favourite time of the week and I know for many of the students attending, this feeling is mutual.

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