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Saturday, 19 September 2015

Taking the Leap-Maker Spaces in the LRC

Makerspaces offer engaging hands-on creative opportunities for learners to experiment and develop their skills in STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics through student centred, student driven project, embedded within the curriculum, through drop in sessions and as after school clubs  in Learning Resources Centres, libraries and classrooms.

Makerspaces come in a variety of shapes, sizes and are are multipurpose in design. While some are high tech others rely on relatively little technology. They lend themselves perfectly for teaching and learning STEAM skills and concepts. They are places where learners can go to think critically and creatively, plan and experiment, where they have access to tools, materials and resources, where they direct their learning and become inventors and innovators. Makerspaces can  include resources and spaces for electronics, programming and robotics, arts and crafts, woodworking, sewing, gardening and more. They are flexible spaces, often comprised of multiple venues, with plenty of storage and work surfaces, mobile and/or fixed.  
We happened upon this  learning trend  through a discussion with an ex student who is directly involved in the planning and implementation of makerspaces in schools, and immediately  recognised the potential makerspace  and steam learning offered our students and teachers.  This was a way forward for our school.  This was just over a year ago. Since then we have been exploring our options, collecting resources, attending sessions on makerspaces, developing a plan and putting it into action.

Since this time we have developed a tiered system of drop-in, clubs and curriculum based maker activities, developed resource banks, identified and equipped different areas of the LRC with materials and storage and identified areas of the curriculum both academic and extra curricular in which . Through our makerspace initiatives our students and staff members participate in  the active acquisition of important skills through critical thinking, exploration and creative invention. They make connections and build upon their learning experiences, both in school and in their personal lives.   
We measure our success not only by the acquisition of new skills and concepts, but also by the levels of excitement, initiative and student engagement we have observed so far, as we blast through traditional subject barriers, and take huge leaps into dynamic student lead creative experiences.
Here are a few more examples of student work so far. We look forward to sharing more on this topic in the near future.  

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