One of Watchdog’s clients, an independent co-educational private day school is building out a makerspace over the summer vacation. When we learned of this project, several of us asked the question, ‘what’s a makerspace?’ We quickly learned that this use-case is on the rise in educational institutions. So, we wanted to bring it to the blog and make sure our readers (and ourselves) are informed.
A makerspace is a place in which people with shared interests, especially computing or technology gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment and knowledge. More simply, it is a space designed and dedicated to hands-on creativity with an intention to actually create some kind of product. In today’s world, that often means a digital product, but it could also be a physical product.
A makerspace presents readily-available materials that can be used for concepting, inquiring and really anything imaginable. The materials in a makerspace vary greatly. Everything from cardboard, duct tape, construction paper and rubber bands might be found alongside laptops, microphones, green screens, tablets and speakers.
What is the point?
The maker movement is about teaching and learning that is focused on student centered inquiry. Students retain more when they are engaged in creative thinking. The idea is that the makerspace allows for deeper learning and engagement. Literal hands-on learning, where students have to solve real world problems is thought to enhance innovative thinking and therefore innovation.
Students need to be able to engage in iterative, creative, and critical thinking in order to navigate today’s global economy. This type of teaching and learning should begin in early education. Students must learn to revise an idea, how to solve complex problems and ultimately, to become a problem-solver and a maker. Embedding making into curriculum develops the critical thinking skillset early on.
What does a makerspace look like?
There is no set formula for what a makerspace should look like. It could take the form of an entire classroom or library even, transformed into learning commons with all types of materials and working stations available. Or, a makerspace could take the form of a bin, bucket or cart that travels from place to place, wherever space is available for creative product exploration.