5 ways to build a makerspace students won’t want to leave.
You got the funding. You researched STEM/STEAM tools. You created a makerspace. Now what? To answer that question, we talked with expert maker librarians David Saunders and Susan Polos, who both built makerspaces from the ground-up and transformed them into hands-on learning hubs.
Transforming a makerspace into a makerHUB is about cultivating a mentality. It takes the leaders of the community creating a culture of excitement, inclusion, collaboration, and a willingness to try new things. The makerhub mentality is much more than high-tech tools; it empowers all community members to feel like they can make a difference by engineering creative solutions. What’s more, the makerhub mentality goes beyond the space that it occupies.
We know that librarians often act as the “pollinators” in their schools and communities – fostering a maker culture. So we joined up with the School Library Journal to host a webinar full of helpful learnings from a couple pros. Short on time to watch? Here are 5 takeaways you can use to transform your makerspace.
1. Connect with faculty. We hear time and time again from librarians that they want to be more of a resource for faculty. Connect with a faculty member who wants to learn about the maker mentality and they will become an advocate for makerspace programs. Other ideas include creating a check-out program for teachers, allowing them to tinker with the tools from your library or makerspace and see if it’s something they might want to integrate into their classroom curriculum. Talk with faculty members about how, in this project-based style of education, teachers can learn alongside their students.
2. Showcase your students’ work. Find ways to let the community see your students’ projects, giving them an elevated sense of pride and ownership, as well as hopefully getting faculty members and parents excited about STEAM learning. It could be showcasing their projects at a “gallery walk” at a monthly community event, in the windowsill of the library, at recess, or maybe even in the display cases in your school lobby. Get creative!
3. Market your makerspace. Use Twitter to share your students’ projects, get new ideas from other makerspaces around the world, and drive curiosity among faculty. Host community events with kids, parents, siblings, teachers, librarians and administrators. Give them some space, electronics, DIY material, and a simple prompt like “Choose one thing you do daily and invent a way to track or change your habit.” The kids will lead the way.
4. Use your students to spread the word. The enthusiasm of your students is what will drive momentum and transform your makerspace into a makerHUB. Let the students be the teacher (for example, sharing their process of creating a robot with other students), bring their friends in at lunchtime, and talk to their teachers, parents, and siblings about the awesome projects they’re working on in the library.
5. Bring the outside in. Bringing in outside community members can be an amazing way to build a makerhub that develops the students’ 21st century skills while having fun. We’ve seen librarians lead their students in designing and prototyping inventions based on an open challenge like “Invent something that helps someone else.” Then they create a Shark Tank-like competition and bring in local businesses to give the kids feedback. With this kind of resourceful work, students start to develop their own lines of inquiry, mixing the right and left brain to solve problems, which is what putting the “Arts” in STEAM is all about.
Senior Marketing Manager, Education