Makerspaces provide perfect opportunities for collaboration, advocacy, and unique experiences. As Jen Gilbert reported on our One-Question Survey about school librarians' philosophy on makerspaces, answers fell into one of five categories: free range, guided, structured, all of the above, or I don't have a makerspace. Here, I want to specifically address the 38% of respondents who said they didn't have a makerspace and discuss foundational practices for starting a makerspace in your library.
Makerspaces are a real thing. Diana Rendina defines a makerspace as "a place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore and discover using a variety of tools and materials" (http://www.renovatedlearning.com/2015/04/02/defining-makerspaces-part-1/) A makerspace encourages students to be creative and play. When school librarians incorporate makerspaces into the library space, they open up opportunities that some students may never experience. Through making, school librarians can collaborate with students and teachers to connect to creative endeavors and STEM activities. Further, a makerspace is a great community outreach tool that also allows us to advocate for school libraries through a unique program.
So you have decided to develop your own makerspace? GREAT IDEA! There are some amazing educators who have gone before us and curated some terrific resources. I suggest reading up on their ideas and learning about how they got started.
- http://www.renovatedlearning.com/ (Diana Rendina)
- http://www.heatherlister.com/about-heather/our-makerspace/ (Heather Lister)
- http://learninprogress.blogspot.com/ (Heidi Neltner)
- https://colleengraves.org/makerspace-resources-and-programming-ideas/ (Colleen Graves)
- And for more, check out: https://www.makerspaces.com/makerspace-guide-school-and-library/
I am lucky enough to have a fully stocked makerspace. However, these are the five products I would explore first if I was just starting this adventure.
- Sphero — https://www.sphero.com/
- Makedo — https://www.make.do/
- Lego Education — https://education.lego.com/
- Craft/art supplies — for example, https://www.joann.com/
- CoSpaces EDU — https://cospaces.io/edu/
The beginning of any endeavor can be intimidating. If at all possible, allow your students and teachers to take the lead. Give your students opportunities that support the standards we want them to achieve. Develop ideas for regular classroom collaborations and do not be afraid to play (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGhj7w0-WOE&feature=youtu.be). I think of play as a strategy and a mindset to learn. Play does not necessarily mean fun, trivial, or easy. We don't have to be experts at everything we offer to our students, we just have to give them the time to play and explore their own passions and interests.
The best part about making, creating, art, or whatever we decide to call it, is that it does not have one definition. We all try to make the best decisions we can for our students and library programs. As this school year comes to an end and we enter a time when we have a few moments for reflection, think about the place making could have in your library. There is no right or wrong! Don't be afraid to give makerspaces a try.