After attending a number of conferences and observing the creative learning opportunities offered by Makerspace education, Ryan Park Elementary School Principal Amy Heavin decided to put together a team to create her own Makerspace called “The Learning Lab” at her school. A relatively new concept, Makerspaces are spaces with tools and materials for individuals to “tinker, explore and create” and have gained popularity recently in schools and libraries around the country.
Planning the Makerspace
With an understanding that Makerspaces are built on a foundation of collaboration and collaborative learning, Heavin knew the the planning and creating process needed to be a team effort between students, teachers and administrators.
“While I knew the potential of building a Makerspace in our school, I knew that I had to build a collective vision for one,” said Heavin in a Fractus Learning article. “I could not just find a space, order materials, and expect a Makerspace to happen. It was going to take a team to make this happen.”
Heavin and her team planned for the Learning Lab space to be used for a wider variety of purposes than the old computer lab it was previously home to, so they decided to incorporate Smith System’s Diamond Interchange Desks, UXL Crescent Tables and Chat Chairs into the final design to allow for greater flexibility and collaboration.
“We began our work simply discussing the space we had in the building, our Learning Lab,” Heavin Said in a Fractus Learning article. “We gutted our old computer lab, putting in flexible furniture for a variety of uses. In essence, I asked, ‘What would you like to see from this space?’ From there, we began to dream together.”
The Next Step
The next step was figuring out how to make it happen. Heavin wanted the Learning Lab to present STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) opportunities for students to work together through the process of “inquiry and problem solving, while using their creative abilities to ask questions and develop their own solutions.” To do this, her team created four stations of materials– the Arts Station, the Builders Station, the Games and Puzzles Station and the Tech ‘n Engineering Exploration Station. The team gathered materials for the space by looking into grants and funding opportunities through the school as well as asking for donations and shopping at the Dollar Store for budget items.
Before officially opening up the new Learning Lab Makerspace for student use, Heavin invited faculty into the space to experience the various materials stations and to provide feedback to improve the space. Currently, the team is planning the implementation process and official grand opening of the space to students.