What is the pedagogy behind a Maker Space? What are its benefits to students?
Maker Spaces do not a have universal design or definition. Essentially, what they are are places where the tools and space to create or make things are available. Additionally they are places where people can work together, collaborate and share ideas and knowledge (Eudcause, 2013). The pedagogy behind the use of maker spaces is fairly vague. Because the construction of a maker spaces is so flexible, its application in classrooms will vary widely. One clear connection the Maker Spaces have to pedagogies and movements that are already taking place in schools across the country is with STEM (Catalano, 2013). The act of making is inherently engineering (the E in STEM) and making will invariably involve some aspects of science and, if the resources are available, technology as well (the S and T of STEM respectively). Some teachers use Maker Spaces to have students create intentionally designed projects, some that could apply to either standards or expected outcomes of students in other subjects, while some teachers are simply giving students the opportunity to create and use their imaginations to figure out what to make (Krueger, 2014).
Maker Spaces also give students the opportunity to develop and fine tune their technological skills, in a productive way. Technology becomes more significant with each day that passes and students will surely need dexterous technological skills to be successful in the future. Maker Spaces allow students to develop these vital skills in a productive and practical way at school, rather than just by playing video games or surfing the internet at home in their free time. Additionally, while developing fluency with technology, students will also be able to develop communication skills while working with others, critical thinking and problems solving.
While the definition and application of Maker Spaces is harder to nail down, the benefits a Maker Space has for students is much more clear. First and foremost, Maker Spaces give students a safe place to be creative and use their imagination. Students also learn to take control and ownership of their own learning, especially if they are given the opportunity to make anything they like (Eudcause, 2013). It also teachers students to value the process of making something, over the product and teacher them to be creators rather than consumers (Catalano, 2013, Krueger, 2014). Maker Spaces also give kinesthetic learners direct access to their best method of learning. And although less important to educational legislators, but definitely important to teachers and their students, students enjoy using the Maker Spaces and making things and have fun doing so. In the youtube video that showed students from Camelot Elementary School, all the students in the video seemed very engaged and interested in their work, and more so they were proud of what they had created and enjoyed doing it.
Also, just to share, I found this great resource that has Maker Kits available for sale. I know that when it come to things like this, I always need a guideline or a starting point and this site has some great ideas of kits for kids! http://www.makershed.com/collections/beginner
7 things you should know about makerspaces. (2013, April 1). Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7095.pdf
Catalano, F. (2013, February 12). Want to Start a Makerspace at School? Tips to Get Started. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/02/12/want-to-start-a-makerspace-at-school-tips-to-get-started/
Krueger, N. (2014, June 21). Create a school makerspace in 3 simple steps. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=103&category=ISTE-Connects-blog&article=Create-a-school-makerspace-in-3-simple-steps