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Maker Movement

Making makerspaces that work

March 13, 2018

This past summer, Design Concepts had the pleasure of working with Lincoln Elementary School on improving their makerspace and program.

Lincoln’s principal Deborah Hoffman, instructional coach Ellen Franzone, and librarian Jim Igielski believe in the power of making to teach their students a variety of skills and keep them engaged and excited about learning. Jim had mostly spearheaded their efforts, but had struggled with low supplies and projects that needed more than one class period to complete. He also wanted to help classroom teachers have a sense of the resources they had access to and how they might integrate into their curriculum.

Since no two makerspaces are the same, how could we help Lincoln create a makerspace that worked for them? We started by talking to students, teachers and the leadership team about what they needed and wanted to make and what the space should allow them to do. Our feedback included some amazing drawings from the kids and a list of a whole bunch of things that the kids wanted to make.

From the teachers and leadership team, we learned that the diversity of projects and interests, along with contexts in which making could be used, are part of what made the problem difficult. For some teachers, making was a time for the students to practice their social skills and learn to work with others. For others, making was an outlet that let individual students dig deep into an area that excited them and helped keep them engaged at school.

As we researched, we also found an abundance of existing resources and activity ideas. So Lincoln had a variety of ways they wanted to incorporate making and we could offer them plenty of resources, but the array of ideas and options was overwhelming. Our challenge was to make it manageable.

Since no two makerspaces are the same, how could we help Lincoln create a makerspace that worked for them?

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