I just wanted to post a quick link to Parker Thomas’ MAKE blog post on makerspaces in schools.
The DARPA funded project that allowed them to create maker spaces in 15 American high schools is being spun out into a larger project by the funder to create makerspaces in 1000 schools.
Thomas points out that making requires two sets of skills: the skills to use the actual tools and materials of making, and the skills to pinpoint problems in your project and work out solutions for yourself. After that, says Thomas, a heaping helping of confidence takes students the rest of the way.
How to build that project, he says, is also a tricky task. Starting students with more directed, outcome-based projects can help them build both kinds of skills. Eventually, students have the confidence to start making whatever they can dream up open-ended projects, and the skills to make it happen.
Teacher training and development also go into a good education-based makerspace. The project funded professional development, as well as training that taught makerspace teachers the elation of completing a successful project, as well as the devastation of a failed project, through the experience of making their own projects.
I am so interested in maker culture these days. I was thrilled to read about this project and it’s potential in high schools. I flashed back to my own time spent in shop class, being scolded for altering the plans to an assigned project just to put my own spin on it, and I can’t help but imagine how much creativity could be spawned through the freedom of open-ended projects.