What is a Makerspace?
“To define a school makerspace by its purpose and simplest of terms, it is a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests; learn to use tools and materials, both physical and virtual; and develop creative projects.” (makerspaceforeducation.com)
Building a Makerspace in the BMS Library
I started thinking about a makerspace for our library two years ago, when I went to a professional development workshop for librarians at USJ in Jackson, Tennessee. I loved the idea of a place that allowed students to create things and explore ideas that interested them. I had previously implemented “Genius Hour” in my after-school tutoring classes, and I knew there was an interest for students to be able to explore on their own.
The first thing I did was to survey the students and ask what they would like to work on in a makerspace. Many wanted to color and create bookmarks and posters; so that was one of the first things added to our makerspace. Middle schoolers love to build things, so we have several different K’NEX sets: bridges, Ferris wheels, and roller coasters. We also included several STEM games involving logic and reasoning. BreakoutEDU escape boxes were also set up for a group of students to try and “break out”.
This past year, with the help of a grant, I was able to purchase more items for our makerspace. We were able to purchase a 3D printer, as well as Electronics Snap Circuit models, solar race cars, solar robots, and the LEGO Mindstorms series. The students enjoy making items on the 3D printer through the CURA software online.
Activities are changed out monthly. Our makerspace has the following components:
- Hands-on activities.
- Differentiated space, students are able to sit, stand, and move around.
- Student ownership over the creative process.
The projects can be short-term or long-term. The poster project takes several weeks, and then we frame it and display it in the library when they are finished. The makerspace area is open to students from 7:25 A.M. until 8:00 A.M. Classes also use the makerspace when they come to the library and it is used on Monday and Tuesday afternoons until 5:30 P.M. with the after-school Enrichment classes. I feel that our makerspace inspires curiosity and wonder in our students and my hope is that it leads to independent and creative problem-solvers.
Deana Sain is the Library Media Specialist at Bolivar Middle School in Bolivar, TN. She is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma and a member of the TN Rural STEM Collaborative. She was awarded the TVA/STEM Grant of $5,000 in January of 2020.