Plain Local Creates Elementary "Makerspace"
Kari Hufhand and Ashley Hamilton made their vision a reality in January when the Makerspace lab opened for K-4 students at Middlebranch Elementary School. Each month four centers designed by teachers provide students with experiences in the 4Cs - creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.
"I haven't done this before," explained a third grade boy using an iPad to work on a coding program. "Wait! You guys, here's how you do it!"
Groups of 15 students visit twice each month for 30 minutes at a time. During those sessions students engage in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and project based learning experiences tied to the academic standards for each grade level. They work in pairs and small groups to experiment, problem solve, tinker and create solutions. The tools in the Makerspace include books related to the current theme, a vertical lego wall, creation stations and a technology center.
"While part of the each class is in the Makerspace, teachers have an opportunity to provide small group and targeted instruction to those in a different time slot," Jill Downing, Principal, said explaining an additional benefit of the scheduling plan. "All students experience small group time either in the MakerSpace or in their classroom."
"We are blessed with an amazing group of parent volunteers who have been trained to facilitate student learning in this special environment," Ms. Hufhand added. Two parents on hand one morning explained. "I love to see the kids working together solving problems." "I enjoy being with kids who are using their minds on a different level - experimenting, reworking and accomplishing things that they normally don't attempt and being surprised at their success."
Makerspace is the result of extensive research by Hufhand and Hamilton to qualify for a STAR grant award by the Plain Local Schools Foundation. DonorsChoose and the school PTO provided additional support.