The Idea Farm - A Makerspace at Westfield High School
It would be hard to miss the large garage door that welcomes you into the makerspace at Westfield High School. The Idea Farm, as this local makerspace is known, has been at Westfield for five years and led by local maker manager Joel Bruns. It is clearly a place where makers from every content area are able to dream – and do – to their heart's content. The 1st Maker Space team asked Joel to take us on a tour of the Idea Farm, and we decided to team up to share this incredible space with educators across Indiana.
“At the Idea Farm, we try not to add to the suck of the world,” said Joel Bruns. With students in and out of the makerspace, asking questions and creating new and innovative projects, this is indeed a place of light in a dark time.
The Idea Farm is a makerspace that has clearly evolved from the back of the library to multiple rooms, including a workshop, collaboration area, podcasting studio, and more. Within the main collaboration area, there are zones for sewing and textile arts, digital fabrication and 3D printing, screen printing, photography, electronics, and more. Student work decorates the walls and serves as a powerful reminder of student voice and choice. Our favorite student pieces included the Poetry Box (yes..it printed a poem when the button was pressed) and the La Table des Idees poster.
Throughout the tour, Joel discusses the different maker education programs he is currently running and how he has gained support for his program over the past years. “Students that I had in a maker program years ago are able to come through the makerspace, and that is such a joy for me,” said Joel. Joel offers a variety of programming to keep the Idea Farm vibrant, including Maker Fridays, a Coder Dojo, a Shark Tank pitch competition, Family Make Night and more. Students are able to come down to the Idea Farm during their CORE time to work on a project with teacher permission as well. This allows students to use the resources in the makerspace for cross-curricular projects in addition to what teachers may have already planned.
Westfield High School has been on a hybrid model since August, and Joel has been able to keep the Idea Farm open by having small, socially distanced groups in the makerspace.
The students at Westfield High School have a creative outlet that looks nothing like traditional school, and they are all the better for it. #makersgonnamake
To view a video tour of the Idea Farm, click here.
To view our pictures from the tour, click here.