The first thing you need to do is get your idea out there. Tell your administration. Tell the other teachers at your school. Tell your students. Tell your parents and community. The more that you can get other people onboard with your vision, the more support you will receive. Teachers, parents and community members love to hear about fun, innovative projects that their school is planning, and they’ll often help you out if they know what you’re trying to accomplish.
Makerspaces can be put together by a single teacher or group of teachers. Talk to other teachers who might be willing to go whole force along with you. Let them work their curriculum ideas into yours. You will need support for a transition like this. Let other teachers help. Find out if there are parents that might come in to demonstrate a skill and show the other students how to do it.
So you’ve sold the idea. Now you have to work on your space.
Almost any space in a school can be repurposed as a makerspace. The truth is, you can set up a makerspace almost anywhere, such as empty classrooms or section of the library. Many schools are re-purposing existing spaces that are neglected or underused by the community. Re-purposing an existing space is a low-cost way to open the door to exciting new learning opportunities for students.
Here are seven basic suggestions for a successful makerspace:
Set aside dedicated space or room that all students at your school can access and work on their maker projects. Remember that this room will be full of noise and discussion!
Flexible working area
Provide areas where students can work comfortably on their own or in teams. Movable furniture is a great addition to a makerspace. Creating dedicated ‘hot desks’ where students can work with tools and discussion areas with white boards and post-it notes to facilitate design thinking are excellent additions to any makerspace.
It is important that students have easy to access electrical power points so they can plug in their laptops, tablets, or other making tools. Extension cords are an option, but remember that too many can create a safety hazard.
Rubbish and recycle bins
Making can be a messy process! As students work through the design process they will be continually reiterating their designs so have some big open mouth bins handy. This is a great opportunity to discuss waste and recycling with you students as well.
The right tools
Think about what you want students to be able to do in the makerspace and the tools they will need for this to happen. Will your students need hammer and nails, wood, cardboard, glue, screwdrivers, 3D printers, computers, etc.? Having the right tools available to your students is key
A makerspace has the potential to become a very messy and cluttered space. Adequate storage with clear labels is important. Plus, storage should be accessible to the students, so they can reach what they need without having to ask for help. Students also need a clear space to work so any non-essential items like school bags should be placed neatly away from the working spaces.
First aid kit
Every space at a school should have a first aid kit, and the makerspace is no different. Minor injuries are sometimes a part of the making process, and it’s always good to be prepared.
There are many resources online to help you get your makerspace off the ground. Here are just a few:
Makerspace for Education offers a number of resource books that can guide you into making and maintaining makerspaces.
Makerspace in the Classroom has a number of ideas to get you started, plus the blog itself has a number of good links.
Starting a School Makerspace from Scratch has a great article plus links to other articles.
A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces: 16 Resources has plenty of links to successful stories of using library space.
Makerspace Playbook – Maker Education Initiative – a downloadable pdf that takes you through the stages of putting a makerspace together.
Next Week: How to Get What You Need