Educators at Liberty are reimagining learning environments as innovative spaces for students to get creative and use their imaginations in hands-on learning projects. To that end, the districts proposed budget for the 2018-19 school year would include the creation of Makerspace
The 2018-19 proposed school budget includes funds that would create a MakerSpace – a creative workshop that contains elements found in a woodshop class, science lab, computer lab and an art room – for students in grades K-8.
For several years, there has been a national focus on education and careers related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Most recently, this focus has come to include the arts, resulting in the implementation of STEAM-based programs in the Liberty Central School District.
If the budget is approved on Tuesday, May 15, the district will create three MakerSpace labs for grades K-4, 5-6 and 7-8.
At the heart of the Makerspace movement is a culture of participatory learning. Makerspaces provide both students AND teachers with opportunities to exercise elements of participatory learning, such as:
• heightened motivation and new forms of engagement through meaningful play and experimentation;
• opportunities for creating using a variety of media, tools, and practices;
• learning that feels relevant to students’ identities and interests; and
• co-configured expertise where educators and students pool their skills and knowledge and share in the tasks of learning and teaching.
What would the MakerSpace Lab look like in each school?
The elementary MakerSpace would provide a 21st century learning environment for students with resources, to learn, create, and share. The MakerSpace would become a course for grades 2-4 students to replace the traditional computer course. Students wuld be assigned to the space maker lab one full trimester each year in grades 2-4. The lab will also be open to students during recess periods to continue project work, as needed. Materials offered would include coding kits, invention kits, literacy kits and every day items and art supplies from batteries, foil and tape to marbles, playing cards and popsicle sticks.
The District’s current library curriculum, described below, is already organized to incorporate technology and STEM strategies, concepts and activities. The items requested will further enhance this curriculum.
Mondays: (Monster Monday) Students work towards being able to find books and other library related resources for academic and aesthetic growth.
Tuesdays: (Tech Tuesday) As our school follows a 1:1 iPad model, our learning target is technology related. Students work towards finding and using reliable, vetted sources of information (i.e. reference eBooks,subject specific databases, almanacs, encyclopedias). Students also learn the importance of technology, specifically computer coding, and how it fits into everyday life.
Wednesdays: (Wonder Wednesday) Our students work towards the skill of paraphrasing. The class is exposed to and discusses a quote by a famous person (i.e. Stephen Hawking, Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou), interprets the quote in their own words, learns about the life of the person, then gives their own thoughts about said quote, in turn connecting it to the famous person’s life.
Thursdays: (Thinker Thursday) Students work on their creative problem solving skills with various STEM activities.
Fridays: (First Chapter Fridays) Students learn about specific authors and are exposed to books by that author.
Activities in MakerSpaces range from technological empowerment to peer-to-peer project-based technical training to local problem-solving to small-scale high-tech business incubation to grass-roots research. Projects being developed and produced in MakerSpaces include solar and wind-powered turbines, thin-client computers and wireless data networks, analytical instrumentation for agriculture and healthcare, custom housing, and rapid-prototyping of rapid-prototyping machines. MakerSpaces share core capabilities, so that people and projects can be shared across them. This currently includes:
- A computer-controlled laser cutter, for press-fit assembly of 3D structures from 2D parts
- A larger (4’x8’) numerically-controlled milling machine, for making furniture- (and house-) sized parts
- A signcutter, to produce printing masks, flexible circuits, and antennas
- A precision (micron resolution) milling machine to make three-dimensional molds and surface-mount circuit boards
- Programming tools for low-cost high-speed embedded processors
These would work components and materials optimized for use in the field, and are controlled with custom software for integrated design, manufacturing, and project management.
Each school’s MakerSpace would be incorporated into its curriculum, allowing every student an opportunity to take part.