Recently, the concept of maker spaces has begun to grow. However, what defines a maker space is still difficult to understand. After attending a webinar hosted by Susan Considine, visiting several public and school based learning commons considering the jump to including maker spaces, and attending several workshop on wearable technology, 3D Printing, and maker projects, I thought I best to share some of the knowledge I have gained. Below, I will highlight the following:

  • What is a maker space?
  • Why maker space?
  • What makes a Maker?
  • Types of maker spaces

 

This is the beginning post in a series I plan to extend upon in helping educators and stakeholders understand the process of creating maker spaces, as well as the benefits and challenges to this process.

 

What is a maker space?

Ignited by the introduction of new technologies that allow for faster prototyping and fabrication tools, such as 3D printing and the Arduino microcontroller (programming), the Maker movement is gaining momentum worldwide, bringing us back to a more arts-centered society and away from the Industrial Age. The sharing of knowledge is now acceptable thanks to the Internet and new technologies. But what exactly is a maker space? Simply, it is a physical community workspace.

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The maker space connects the library philosophy of content, technology, spaces and each other. It moves beyond this to encompass the ideals of the learning commons, supporting the movement to free and open access to ideas and information.

A make space supports a culture of innovation. To achieve this, the space must:

  • Emphasize high tolerance
  • Identify that failure is high
  • Have apparent support from administration
  • Make an organization priority to give time and space for teachers to work together to create new and innovative programs and services
  • Provide time to staff members for brainstorming and collaboration – this could fit into the school’s PD model or departmental planning… use the space!

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Why maker spaces?

Many students entering post secondary do not have any hand skills. Our society has devalued that type of work. For more on how to help foster these skills, a book recommended to me was Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work.

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Marker spaces also encourage knowledge transfer and support knowledge creation through collaboration.

 

What makes a Maker?

  • Makers believe that if you can imagine it, you can make it. We are more than consumers — we are productive and creative; our world is what we make it.
  • Makers seek out to learn to do new things, especially through hands-on, DIY interactions.
  • Makers surprise and delight those who see their projects, even though the projects can be a bit rough-edged and messy.
  • Makers create communities that help one another do better. They are open, inclusive, encouraging and generous in spirit.
  • Makers are generally not in it for the money.
  • Makers celebrate other Makers — what they make, how they make it, and the enthusiasm that drives them.

 

Types of maker spaces

There are five types of maker spaces one should consider planning for. These spaces encourage entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and innovation.

Space-free making:

  • Here, provide an open space with room for learners to create anything they can imagine.
  • Provide students with access to basic products, such as tape, staplers, glues, pencil crayons, markers, and paper – your basic library/learning commons supplies
  • Consider placing larger foldable tables in this space where more than two or three students can get their hands in on the action.
  • Allow students to leave their projects on the table – set some guidelines, such as a booking system so kids know when and for how long they can use the space.
  • Have a planning surface – white boards, chart paper – for students to collaborate and plan.

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Creation lab

  • This is a digital content creation space.
  • Provide students access to computers, tablets, plug-ins, chargers and printers.
  • Of course, set guidelines for usage in this space and remind students the digital citizenship guidelines must be followed.
  • Consider providing access to a projector and screen or SMART Board for kids to put their work on display or to work collaboratively.

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Fab lab

  • A space that provides access to fabrication tools and technology
  • This space supports student fabricating physical objects, such as clothing or woodworking projects.
  • Start small here – begin with creative hand stitching projects, duct tape art, popsicle stick building or pop can art to ignite student thinking.
  • Once momentum has gained, consider moving two or three sewing machines into an openly accessible space. Set clear guidelines for use of these devices.

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 Family room

  • This space would be great for public library maker spaces as this is a space where families can come together to be makers together.
  • In the school, consider having an area where students can use to present/showcase their work to their school family. This gives students opportunities to practice public speaking skills and receive valuable feedback from their peers.

Little maker area

  • Typically, this type of area is known for programs targeted at makers in age 5-8 to imagine, create and build.
  • Consider having a space for smaller projects/games where kids come together to focus on problem solving and critical thinking

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I hope this post proves helpful to some of you!  Keep an eye out for my upcoming overview of the challenges to prepare for in implementing a maker space and some easy programming ideas you can incorporate. Good luck and happy tinkering!

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