Friday, August 14, 2015

A Makerspace Fosters Character Building Traits

We created a makerspace in the library of our STEM elementary campus to give the students a chance to explore Science, Engineering and Math topics. I didn't realize the makerspace we created was going to be so much more. When one first looks at the concept of a makerspace one may think... oh it's just centers or a place for indoor recess. I was even told make sure this doesn't become just a tinker room. After having a year to experience a makerspace in the library and researching the concepts and philosophies associated with a makerspace, I realize this makerspace offers character building traits students will needs beyond their school years.
Teamwork and Collaboration
When a student comes into the makerspace, they are expected to work collaboratively with a group or partner. One may have more experience on a topic, so students are given a chance to learn from each other. This also gives them a chance to work as a team and engage in constructive criticism and respect for one another.
Creativity and Curiosity 
Makerspace time in the library gives students a chance to pursue their interest. The library has always been the place to get resources and its always been a community gathering place. Students continue to check out books and research topics based on personal interest, but now they have a space to take it a step farther, and they now have an area to tinker, create, and invent. 

Tinkering is not a bad thing, it is a real world way of learning. It's how Engineers and Scientist come up with their innovative designs and discoveries. If there is not time for tinkering, then where are innovation and creativity found? Students having time to tinker and create, leads them to being intrinsically motivated. If you're looking for tinkering opportunities, this web-site is a great place to start. If you want it ready to go, in a box. kiwicrate.com

Grit and Perseverance 
One of the best things I love about the makerspace is that it's a safe place where it's okay fail. The space is not about the librarian or teacher being the expert. We are there just to scaffold them as they "understand to invent" (Piaget). As students try and fail they learn and improve. This is an ongoing circular design model. One of my favorite new rules, I'm going to implement in the makerspace this year is three before me. I want them to try three times and ask three people before they seek my help. My hope is that this will help to instill grit in my students. The same grit students need to become a video game expert or a Pokemon expert is found in their makerspace projects. Grit and Perseverance are character traits one needs to get through the marathon of life. Angela Duckworth offers a great TED Talk on grit. 









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