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The Maker Space: Technology, Creation and Collaboration

The Maker Space: Technology, Creation and Collaboration

What is a maker space? If you don’t know the answer to that question, it’s time to start learning about the newest trends in STEM education. Maker spaces are quickly taking the place of the workshops and labs we grew up with. Rather than sending our students to woodshop to learn how to build with hammers, nails, saws and screwdrivers, we need to create a workspace where students can work with hardware, software, tablets and 3D printers. With the increasing demand for high-level STEM education, maker spaces are becoming an essential component for today’s schools. They encourage the types of collaboration and innovation that today’s professionals are expected to work with. By providing spaces where our students can explore, we are facilitating creativity and ingenuity while encouraging them to utilize the technology they have learned both in and out of the classroom.

What technology belongs in a maker space?

You can put just about any type of material or device in a maker space, because you never know what students might need. Beginning with the technological tools, of course you need some computers and tablets and all of the accessories that come with them. There is the option of setting up some open computer to each other. If you want some private spaces, you might opt for some computer carrels as well. If you have both options, students can choose which option fits their current task the best. It all depends whether they want a personal space for independent work or an open area where they can collaborate. In addition to having stationary computers, having some charged up tablets that can be moved around the maker lab as needed allows students to work on a device anywhere, in any position. It is also a good idea to have some computer carts which can be moved around as well. If you are going to have some specialized devices such as more advanced computers or 3D printers, an AV cart offers the perfect place to put them, so they can be wheeled around and hooked up to individual workstations as needed.

Other Materials to Enhance Your Maker Lab

While technology is certainly an important component of your space, some good old raw materials can be useful as well. If a student wants to make a mockup of a project that can be physically handled, or really create any sort of project or device, you never know what might be needed. A fully-stocked art cart with all kinds of materials including pipe cleaners, construction paper, foam balls, cardboard and all sorts of other things will allow your students to create freely. Although the maker space includes so much new technology, there is still room for the classic tools including hammers, nails, saws and power tools.

Where Can I Find a Maker Space?

A popular place for a maker lab is in a library, but you can create one virtually anywhere. All you need is a big open room where people can come together to collaborate or work independently. Schools can create their own maker spaces which have hours that students can choose to come and work. It might be helpful to have a teacher facilitator who can help make sure that materials are being handled properly and assist students in bringing their ideas to fruition. Children are never too young to start innovating and creating. Giving them a well-equipped maker lab to work in is a big step in helping them develop the life skills they will need in the future.
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