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Learning Through Inquiry: Makerspaces, Manipulatives, and Boardgames

What is a Makerspace?

"A makerspace is a destination where students-sometimes alongside staff, parents, and mentors-can create, problem solve, and develop skills, talents, thinking, and mental rigor."

Preddy, L.,. (2013). School library makerspaces : Grades 6-12.

Or in other words, providing the space and the materials for project-based, independent, hands-on experience for students.


What's is the Maker Education Movement?

Educational makerspaces are aligned with the curriculum and activities can be measured with a learning objective.  The maker movement in education is based on constructionism which is the philosophy of hands-on learning through building things. The "learning through play," should be a guided activity that has a purpose.  Great educational makerspaces embrace the power of collaboration--it is okay for students to consult and assist one another as they explore and solve problems using the resources of the makerspace.  Makerspaces not only foster learning through inquiry but makerspaces also support mental rigor.

What Does a Makerspace Look Like?

Makerspaces provide materials and resources to foster learning through inquiry.  Those materials can range from simple items like craft paper, makers/crayons, glue, modeling clay, Legos, to more high-tech items like taking apart and restoring donated electronics, 3D printers, laser cutters, and screen printing.  

Things to Consider When Building Your Own Makerspace

  • You do not have to be a techie to start a makerspace in your classroom, school, or library.  This is an opportunity for you to learn through inquiry as well.
  • Start small by stocking your makerspace with low tech arts and crafts items: construction paper, paper plates, cups, pipe cleaners, shoe boxes, yarn, etc.
  • Don't be too Proud to Beg--ask for donations--old electronics, paper towel rolls, scrap wood or fabrics, etc.  Set-up a station in the front office of the school or ask parents for donations during your welcome letter at the beginning of the school year.  Remember to continue to ask for donations through out the year.
  • Before purchasing big ticket items like 3D printers, visit neighboring schools, libraries, or universities that have 3D printers to see it in action. What's the learning curve for that type of printer?  How user friendly is the software? How helpful is the support of the company?  Do thorough research before you purchase, also look into grants that may be available to obtain 3D printers for educational purposes.  
  • Consider partnering with your school librarian to design and purchase materials for a makerspace.  Sometimes the media center has more funds available than individual departments on campus.                



Tools Available in the CMMC Idea Lab/Makerspace

Low-Tech Items - Craft paper, markers, crayons, color pencils, paint, modeling clay, yarn, glue, feathers, buttons, glitter, and legos.

Medium-Tech Items - Makey-Makey, Littlebits, Electronics kit, button making machine, and binding machine.

High-Tech Items - Large format printers (24" and 36" wide), large laminating machine (24" wide), two 3D printers (Makerbot 5th Generation and Lulzbot TAZ 5), wood burning pen, HP Sprout desktop computer with a 3D scanner, and an iMac desktop computer. View the videos below to find out more about the HP Sprout and wood burning.




School Library Makerspaces: Very helpful information on makerspaces from a workshop presented by Leslie B. Preddy at the AASL (American Association of School Librarians) 16th National Conference.

Printrbot: Sign up to purchase an Assembled Printrbot Metal Simple for only $399. Our hope is to introduce teachers and students to 3D printing and to the value of choosing Printrbot as your 3D printer company.

Prezi Presentation