Contributed by Dawn Vieira, elementary librarian
Makerspaces… it’s all the buzz in the library world right now. All around school and public librarians are finding ways to reinvent their space to give their patrons the opportunity to create. Sometimes it can be via technology such as Makey Makey or a 3-D printer, but it can also be just the chance to tinker with Legos or recycled “trash” like toilet paper rolls, cardboard and toothpicks.
I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to develop a wonderful MakerSpace/Tech Corner in my LMC at White Eagle Elementary through a very generous donation from my school’s PTA. With the funds I was able to purchase Dash robots, Spheros, OSMOs and LittleBits. The students absolutely love interacting with these devices and learning more about coding, circuits and more. The Tech Corner was always full of students laughing, sharing and learning. I soon found, however, that although it was a “Makerspace,” my students weren’t always making something. Yes, they were “making” programs via blocks of code for Dash and Sphero to follow. Yes, they were “making” tangrams and words with OSMO, but there was something missing. That’s when I realized my Makerspace was missing another component, what I call the Creation Station.
At the Creation Station side of my makerspace there is absolutely no technology. It is an area where students have the chance to explore various STEM and STEAM provided monthly activities and to just create. Legos, Squigz, Zoinks and blocks call out, “Let’s be an architect! Build something with me.” Rainbow Looms, weaving looms, and bins of yarn shout, “Interested in fashion or design? Make something with me!” Straws, scissors, paper, tape, crayons, cardboard and more call out, “Be creative! Think outside the box and explore with me.”
I first opened the Creation Station side of my MakerSpace in the fall. At this point, my Tech Corner had been up and running since January of last year. I was completely blown away by the shift in my makerspace. It was inspiring. The makerspace had a new purpose for many students, the chance to create in a different way. I overhead statements like, “Look what I made.” “How should we do this?” “What do you think about this?” and “I can’t wait to try another way tomorrow.” I couldn’t believe the engagement and incredible amount of critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication (4Cs of Education) that I was witnessing as students challenged themselves to just create. Don’t get me wrong, the Tech Corner was still a very popular, buzzing corner of my LMC, but a whole new set of students, along with my Tech Corner regulars, stormed to the Creation Station. It was a makerspace shift.
So, as you begin or continue your journey of creating a MakerSpace in your library, remember this: A MakerSpace is simply a place for students to explore and learn through creation, be it through technology or recycled cardboard. Embrace it! Encourage it! Make it!