I’m currently working on a grant proposal, specifically related to the Technology and Engineering parts of STEM. I am endeavouring to take the idea of a makerspace to the next level; I want to explore how it could be setup and utilised to enrich and support secondary learning. One of my issues with maker spaces, is they always seem so primary focused; they seem to be more about the primary educational mentality and focus. It might just be perspective bias on my part, but I always get the impression whenever I read about them or see them, they are intended for younger students. I have always found that makerspaces are really about the “explore” of the tools and materials that are present. Don’t get the wrong impression at this point, I in fact love makerspaces; I think they are fantastic and want them to become more widespread. What I want to do thought, is move makerspaces to a level that correlates and engages secondary students; especially those in Years 8, 9 and 10.
I really like Samantha Roslund’s definition from her book “Makerspaces”. It reads
“Makerspaces is a general term for a place where people get together to make things. Makerspaces might focus on electronics, robotics, woodworking, sewing laser cutting, programming or some combination of these skills.”
Her words provide a great definition, but at the same time are not specific enough for my purpose. My goal is to support STEM specifically the Technology and Engineering parts. I know it is splitting hairs, but I have always defined a maker space in the following manner myself;
A makerspace is a location set aside and resourced to allow students to work on projects, build, and most of expand their understanding; it is a place where students can create, invent, tinker, and discover using a variety of tools and materials. It is a place where students can be creative and build connections across the curriculum in ways that are meaningful to them.
My definition is even less specific then Samantha’s, as it focuses more on the why of the makerspace, then what it is being done with or in it. I think the only solution is to combine the two!
So here is my attempt at a unified definition;
A Makerspace is a place where people can come together and make things. It is a place that focuses on allowing people to work on projects, build, and most of expand their understanding; it is a place where people can create, invent, tinker, and discover using a variety of tools and materials. It combines skills across fields; it can involve robotics, electronics, craft, sewing, laser cutting, 3D printing, wood cutting and computers. It is not limited to a single filed, but is a place to be creative and make whatever you can come up with.
I think writing this today has helped take my thinking in the right direction. I feel that the scope may still be too large, but some of the “why” we should be doing this is now there. I think I’m going to leave this one here for now.