Recently, Edutopia published an article advocating for the positive effect that Makerspaces in schools have on both students and communities.
In case you aren’t already familiar with what a Makerspace is, it can be defined as a collaborative workspace in a school, library or separate faculty for tinkering, creating, learning, exploring and sharing that uses tools ranging from high-tech to no-tech.
With the rise of 3D printing and the Maker Movement, Makerspaces are beginning to catch on with tinkering enthusiasts around the world. However, the article notes that there is still one area where Makerspaces have yet to gain ubiquitous traction (although they are expected to): schools. Given their experimental and innovative nature, Makerspaces in schools present an opportunity for teachers “breathe new life into their craft.”
The article outlines four different ways that Makerspaces help both schools and communities better succeed:
How Makerspaces in Schools Lead to Student and Community Success
1. Failure IS an option
First, Makerspace learning makes it clear to students, that failure through experimentation is entirely acceptable–even desirable in some cases. The reason for this is that “failure is a necessary milestone in the learning process.” After all, if Thomas Edison had been afraid of failure, perhaps we all would still be sitting in the dark. For him, failure wasn’t failure. Instead, each failure was one step closer to a solution. The philosophy behind Makerspaces and the Maker Movement is very similar to Edison’s approach.
2. Makerspace learning makes tinkering an assessable and measurable skill
Second, while tinkering is a valuable learning experience for anyone, it can be a challenge for educators to secure funding for it because it does not necessarily directly link to the assignments students are working on in classes. Makerspaces and Making are a way that educators can bridge this gap. Project-based lessons provide a measurable way for teachers to assess the quality and progression of student’s work. In a project-based Makerspace, every project has a defined goal that is achieved at different levels of quality. Students have always been encouraged to be creative; the difference is that now we can assess that creativity more objectively through Makerspace learning and the project-based learning pedagogy.
3. Making is fun and motivates students to learn
Third, recent studies have shown that the project-based learning backbone of Makerspaces in schools motivates students to learn who are typically a challenge to connect with. Makerspace learning inspires curiosity and creativity in students, which drives them to experiment, innovate and ultimately, learn quite a bit. Makerspace learning in schools is something new that appeals equally to students across all academic achievement levels. The author supports this notion when he writes that “Makerspace projects have the ability to help struggling students see the value of their classroom work.”
4. The skills learned through Makerspace learning extend to the real world
Makerspace learning is all about completing projects that solve real-world issues. Often, student makers are tasked to create real-world things, such as stomp-powered PVC cannons, handmade Minecraft figurines, or even cardboard periscopes. The idea is that through the process of Making, students see the value in their work and begin using their creative skills outside of the Makerspace to affect change in the real world.
Building Your Makerspace
Many educators, inspired by stories and articles like this, have decided to create their very own Makerspaces. There are countless options when it comes to designing and choosing furnishings for Makerspaces in schools.
Furnishings and storage need to be versatile, mobile, modular and ideally, aesthetically pleasing. Functionality and durability are essential. In Makerspaces, where project materials and lessons are always moving around, portable furnishings on casters are an important choice. Regarding storage, totes, and tote trays are particularly useful because they are a simple solution that can easily be transferred to wherever the lesson is taking place.
The Cascade Storage System
In a Makerspace filled with hundreds or even thousands of project learning materials, storage is critical to keeping everything organized and manageable.
Smith System’s Mobile Cascade Storage System is a scalable Makerspace storage solution. Available in nine unique sizes with totes or shelves and in 18 colors. The Cascade Storage System is ideal for storing hands-on learning materials and other three-dimensional learning objects. The system allows educators to specify a tailor made storage solution to the needs of their Makerspace.
Mobile Storage Totes and Trays
Arguably, the Cascade Storage System’s most useful feature for Makerspaces in schools is the option to choose mobile storage totes. For instructors of Makerspaces in schools, Cascade Storage Totes and Trays are both a versatile and a simple tool for organizing project materials. The totes can either be kept inside a Cascade storage unit, or under a compatible Smith System desk outfitted with the appropriate rails.
Another characteristic that makes Cascade Totes perfect for storage in Makerspaces in schools is that they are clear, allowing for a quick visual inspection of materials. When class is in session, students and teachers need to access project materials quickly. Using the Cascade Storage system they won’t have to dig through various bins to find what they’re looking for.
The Everything Cart
For additional storage with maximum versatility and easy access, there is Smith System’s Everything Cart. The Everything Cart offers two shelves, divided into six bins each and features soft-tread dual-wheel casters, which won’t shimmy like single wheels. The cart’s open-bin design allows for the flexible interchange of tools from the Makerspace as needed for specific projects.
Smith System’s innovative furniture is perfect for Makerspaces.
Our Regional Sales team can help guide you in furniture selection.
Something For Everyone
The beauty of Makerspace learning is that there is something for everyone. An underlying philosophy of trial and error is emphasized, allowing students to embrace experimentation without being deterred by the fear of failure. Although tinkering is a fantastically effective method of learning, until now, there has not been a solid way of measuring and assessing it as a skill. Makerspace learning is a measurable and logical way to evaluate students as they tinker.
As a craft, Tinkering and Making motivate students to learn by generating curiosity and excitement in students. The environment, attitude, and culture of the Maker movement entice students to embrace their creative strengths and freely explore that part of their brains. When students graduate and move on to the real world, they can use the skills they’ve learned through making to affect change and solve workplace challenges.
If you’re building a Makerspace at your school or anywhere else, outfitting it with the right storage solutions will help you better manage project materials. With so many materials to distribute and keep track of, Smith System’s Cascade Storage system is an ideal solution. With storage totes and trays, you can stay organized, efficient, and ultimately, enhance learning for students by having the ability to focus on them rather than spend time searching for things.
If you’re considering starting your Makerspace, be sure to check out our School Makerspace beginners guide.
To read the entire Edutopia article, click here.