Starting a Makerspace
With summer fast approaching, it is hard to imagine planning for next year already. In the MSD of Lawrence Township, they have been diligently planning makerspaces at their two STEM Certified Schools, Indian Creek Elementary and Skiles Test Elementary, for over a year. We have worked with the fantastic team at MSDLT to design and build makerspaces at both buildings that will provide a launching point for rich student problem-solving experiences. Today we delivered a majority of the items for both buildings and were so thrilled to see it all come together! #teamworkmakesthedreamwork
Where does one start when it comes to planning a makerspace? When it comes to planning any long or short-term project, I start with the FCCLA Planning Process.
Step 1: Identify Concerns
The first step of the planning process is to identify concerns. Why are you interested in creating a makerspace? What will it help students achieve? Identifying the reasoning behind the goal will help you stand strong when others question why a makerspace is a priority. During this stage, it is essential to do research to gather as much information as possible! 1st Maker Space hosts a research page on our website rich with peer-reviewed research articles, book and podcasts recommendations, and more!
Step 2: Set a Goal
A goal should be SMART, meaning it is Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. The goal should also have buy-in from administration (if you are a teacher) or your direct supervisor (if you are an administrator) at the very least. The more buy-in, the better. Students, parents, and community members offer great advice and resources for the project.
An example goal could be: Excellence Elementary School will develop a plan to fund a makerspace for the 20/21 school year.
Step 3: Form a Plan
Who is going to make the goal come to life? A teacher, the principal, the media center specialist? What will that person need to make it happen? Money, a period during the day, a stipend? All these things and more need be thought of with the person who is going to be doing the work in order to create a successful makerspace. Maker-learning is often on a continuum, so the plan should be flexible enough to allow for change as one learns more about the maker movement and which tools and resources work for the students who are being served.
1st Make Space would be glad to help you form a plan by coming out to do a free consultation. When we come out to a school, we measure a space and take pictures to create a detailed layout of a room or library. We then listen to your needs and do research on the culture of the building. We use the parameters of the space, needs of the students/staff, and our makerspace expertise to create a customized layout complete with furniture, equipment, and accessories. We can also help you create a plan to implement the layout in phases, as many schools don’t have the funds to implement it all at once.
1st Maker Space offers bundles to allow you to test a variety of products without committing to a large purchase. Our Elementary Maker Bundle includes our most popular elementary products that cover a variety of Indiana Science, Math, and Computer Science Standards. It even includes a half-day of professional development and our Elementary Maker Curriculum!
Step 4: Act
Time to put the petal to the metal! Makerspaces have many moving pieces. If you are creating your own makerspace, it is time to order everything needed for the space. You will need to get estimates and send purchase orders for each vendor that you are working with. In many cases, this can be between 15-30 vendors for the multiple items needed to fill the space with meaningful experiences. From the hot glue guns to the 3D printers, it can be a full-time job!
During this stage of makerspace creation, we would like to do most of the heavy lifting by making the furniture (our furniture is Hoosier-made) and ordering all the items needed to make your vision come to life. We are a one stop shop for makerspaces. Sending us one purchase order is equal to you sending out 10-15 purchase orders to other vendors. We will deliver all the items at once and set-up anything that requires installation. We also provide professional development and curriculum to take a makerspace from a space to a place where problems are solved!
Step 5: Follow Up
In any makerspace there is always more to do. You are never done improving learning. After implementing the makerspace for at least a semester, it is time to evaluate the makerspace through a combination of methods. Student surveys, staff participation rates, and interviews will all provide feedback that will allow you to see where improvements could be made.
Ready to start your makerspace? Email 1st Maker Space at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free consultation.