Makerspace now under construction at Bluejacket-Flint Elementary
Everybody has heard about Makerspaces, but when you have a $10,000 grant to build such a space, how do you decide what goes in it?
At Bluejacket-Flint Elementary School, which received such a grant last winter for its 100 percent participation in the Hour of Code, you get everyone involved.
“When we created this, I had input from all of my stakeholders,” said Principal Kevin Frick, describing the last six months of work that have gone into planning the space. “I had community members, parents and students that kind of helped me design it. So a lot of the ideas in here are kind of kid-created, parent-created.”
The school has put planning into action recently over the summer break as it started to assemble its Makerspace, centers that encourage student creation, fabrication and exploration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts.
“I kind of call it a souped-up science lab,” Frick said.
Unlike other district schools, which have plans to turn library space into Makerspaces, Bluejacket-Flint is using a former classroom down the hall from the library.
Frick said the first decision about the space was to make it accessible by all grade levels, with each class promised one hour per week in the room.
It also will serve as a home base for Michelle Brown, the school’s instructional coach.
“She works with our staff on implementing innovative practices within just a regular lesson plan,” Frick said. “But this way she’ll have a room to help facilitate a little bit more.”
Frick said because the school district already provides students with iPads and other technology, the school didn’t have to spend its grant on those items and was able to get some things that other Makerspaces probably wouldn’t have.
In the last few weeks, school staff and community members have started setting up the Makerspace with items for all age levels, from basic building blocks to a wall for regular Legos to Lego Mindstorms sets, which require students to do designing and coding.
The room also includes a 3D printer, designing software with a vinyl cutter, tool sets and items that involve exploration of circuitry, building, designing and geometry-based math. One example are the programmable Dash robots.
“We have a lot of community sponsors and members who want to come in and work with the kids on that,” Frick said, “because that’s a really cool way for them to teach the kids but also help the kids get into that kind of career path and get some of those engineering skills.”
But the room also will have a space with arts and crafts materials, and the school plans to put out requests to parents for items like cardboard and paper bags.
“The parents really wanted some other things that weren’t just STEM,” Frick said. “There’s (a station with) some sewing, some cooking things, some basic knitting, because with the young kids, there’s a lot of really good tactile things we can do with it.”
Frick said the school is planning grade level nights in the Makerspace so parents and their children can come up and experiment with everything the room offers.