Creating a Sustainable MakerSpace with Rasperry Pi Club

Contributed by Lynn Domek, NBCT and elementary librarian

This year I wanted to create a sustainable MakerSpace in the library to be used at any time of the day for drop in students and whole classes.  I took into account the President’s new initiative, “Computer Science for All,” to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and to be active citizens in our technology-driven world. From “order makes sense” to inquiry-based thought processes in the existing curriculum, collaboration and creativity could be extended to the 750 students in our K-5 building.

Our students at Welch Elementary had been exposed to LittleBits circuits and Dash and Dot robots via participation in the Illinois State Library MakeIt@YourLibrary program.  This exposure brought much excitement and collaboration to the Welch community.  With the addition of Makey-Makey and Osmo, we were on our way to having a sustainable MakerSpace.  But I was looking for something more.

So, I took the plunge and wrote a grant that was funded by IPEF that introduced SnapCircuits and Raspberry Pi into our MakerSpace.  I first learned about Raspberry Pi from following a former colleague on Twitter.  He had mentioned in a tweet that students in a Syrian refugee camp were programming with Raspberry Pi. What was this credit-card sized computer?  I looked into it over the summer and discovered MIT’s Scratch programming language and many resources for educators on the Raspberry Pi website.
I created an after-school Raspberry Pi club that lasted for six weeks.  I then added the Raspberry Pis into the MakerSpace.  I was amazed at how much 5th grade students could do regarding programming by utilizing Scratch and Python after a brief introduction.  I am looking forward to finding future computer science opportunities for Welch students and am currently considering purchasing a Kano computer and coding kit.
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