My Kindergarteners and First Graders participated in a Storytime STEM activity this week. We read the book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciezka. Then, we created houses out of toothpicks and gumdrops. Their house had to be sturdy enough to withstand our "big-bad wolf," which was actually a hair blow dryer with a wolf mask on it. If their structure fell down, they had to find a way to make it stronger and more sturdy. Here are some pictures from our fun experiment! The kiddos loved this project and when their structure did not fall down they worked together to make a taller building.
The students at Prairie View and Eagleville have been exploring 3D printing. They started off getting more familiar with the program Tinkercad through mini challenges. We completed these challenges so that students could get a basic understanding of how Tinkercad works before we start on an actual project. Students learned how to drag an object onto their workspace, make an object bigger, make the object taller, put a hole in an object, add text to an object, and group objects together.
Eagleville students are working on creating a gear key chain with their names on it. I am excited to see what other projects we can connect to the curriculum moving forward.
Google Expeditions is amazing. We have used virtual reality the past two weeks in the library to extend on students' learning in class.
Third Grade: Went inside a cloud! This was an extension of their work in science about the water cycle and climates.
Fourth Grade: Went inside a circuit! We analyzed differences between parallel and series circuits. In addition, we saw how circuits are created in today's world through computer software.
Fifth Grade: We went to a Native American reservation and looked at different aspects of Native American culture. This connected to fifth graders' work in social studies.
Sixth Grade: Traveled all around the world to different biomes. We took notes on the characteristics of each biome and animals that lived in each place.
The students loved this interactive experience. It prompted great questions and discussion. I can't wait to connect this to learning we do in the future!
Storytime Stem has been the most fun time with my little ones! This week we read the book 10 Apples Up on Top by Dr. Suess. I picked this book because Kindergarteners are also learning about the life cycle of an apple. After reading, students got a chance to create a LEGO structure in which they could place two apples up on top! Kindergartners showed great collaboration skills throughout this activity.
Over the past two months I have spent hours interviewing librarians and educators about how they have developed a makerspace in their schools/library. I have read countless scholarly articles about STEM Labs, Creative Common Areas, and Makerspaces and their positive impacts on students. Additionally, I have toured several spaces in order to develop my vision of what our makerspace will look like.
All of this research has guided my creation of a Makerspace Integration Plan. This is a three-year plan and works to slowly develop a space that fits our school.
Despite all this research I am fully aware that the space needs to fit our school, students, and staff. My plan cannot stand on it's own. My integration plan must be readily adaptable based on the specific needs of the school.
My goal over the next six months will be to create a committee of passionate teachers who see a need, a place, and a benefit in interactive, hands-on maker challenges in our school. These teachers will help develop this plan in a more systemic, comprehensive way than I can alone. I look forward to sharing my vision and creating a new vision based on the thoughts and ideas of others.
Nonetheless, I'm excited to get my complete vision on paper. With this visual checklist, I can reflect, change, adapt, and make purposeful decisions for our school.
Basically.... It's a great starting point as we walk into the school year!
My goal for the Makerspace area was to inspire creativity. After putting up the tan LEGO wall, I thought I really needed some color on the off-white walls. I found this poster online which originally sparked the idea. I easily could have bought the print, framed it, and hung the poster up in the Makerspace. However, I felt it would be more powerful to MAKE the posters myself.
-I bought six canvases from Wall Mart (12" x 16")
-I bought some acrylic paint (Red, Blue, Yellow, Black, and White)
-I used a Circuit and some white card stock paper
-1 jar of Modge Podge
First, I used the circuit to cut out the words words Dream, Invent, Make, Question, Learn, and Design in different fonts. I made sure that each word fit on the canvas appropriately. Then, I painted each canvas with acrylic paint. Once I let that dry, I used Modge Podge to stick the words on top of the canvas.
While these first six paintings are all my own, I am excited for school to start and get some new canvas ideas. I can envision having students create their own backgrounds and adding canvases that say words like Collaborate, Discover, Explore, and much more!
This burst of inspirational color makes me excited for the school year to start and kiddos can finally start using this space!
Now that I have an area created for my makerspace, I can really start creating work spaces. Due to the fact that I'm trying to work with what the library already has- I ended up with three different sizes and shapes for tables. Two circular tables (one short and one tall) as well as one long, rectangular table. Furthermore, each of these tables were different shades of brown. I wanted to make these tables work in my space, so I added some Dry-Erase contact paper on the top of them! The contact paper was really easy to put on the tables. I used the Duck Brand Deco Adhesive Laminate. I am so excited for the kiddos to use these to show their thinking!
I decided to spruce up the bulletin boards with some fun messages. View my bulletin board transformation below!
Last week I set out to put a LEGO wall in my Makerspace. I contemplated a lot about where to put it. My principal had originally bought 50, 10" x 10" LEGO baseplates. My first thoughts included, "Does it make sense to put LEGO baseplates all the way up to the ceiling?" We tried to decide how to put the LEGO baseplates up so that they would get the most student use. Because I am in a K-6 building, I needed it to be closer to the ground for my younger students.
Step One: Tape out the dimensions of the LEGO wall and decide if it makes the most sense for student use and for the space.
Step Two: Buy your materials.
There were several things we needed to buy in order to successfully put up our LEGO Wall:
Step Three: Use the concrete screws to drill your plywood to the area on the wall where you would like your LEGO Wall.
Step Four: It is the most important that the first LEGO baseplate that you put on is level- If it's not, the entire LEGO wall will be crooked. Take your LEGO baseplates and put Liquid Nails adhesive on the back of it, then put adhesive spray on it as well, and then place it in on the plywood.
Note: When you are placing LEGO baseplates, make sure the little LEGO logo is facing upright.
Continue placing the baseplates on the plywood until the wall is complete. Make sure you place LEGOs over the spaces between the baseplates, so there is the appropriate amount of space in between and it creates a cohesive wall.
Give the LEGO wall at least 24 hours before using. This should be enough time for the glue to dry. Then you can take off the LEGOS and give the students freedom to play and create structures off your new LEGO wall!
Here's what our LEGO wall turned out like:
Special thanks to Diana Redina and her blog post about an Epic LEGO Wall that helped guide our process.
I feel it's safe to assume that this question probably stops most people from beginning the process of creating a Makerspace or STEM Lab. But please... Don't let it stop you! Try not to be scared of the idea just because you went to visit a school with an unlimited budget to building their STEM Lab. Your students still deserve a space to explore, invent, and create. You can fund a Makerspace or STEM Lab! Here are some ideas to help you along the way:
Start by picking one or two pieces of small technology that you think students would really enjoy and teachers can make a clear connection to curriculum. Put these items into your DonorsChoose project and email it out to all of your family and friends. I know, it seems annoying, but it's also a tax-deductible way of people to support education. Some of your friends and family will be happy to contribute to a good cause. Here's my example project.
Look into some grant opportunities that would support the development of a Makerspace or STEM Lab. The TeacherGeek website compiled a list of possible grant options for STEM, STEAM, and Makerspace areas. They are worth looking into and finding out of these grants could fund your vision for a Makerspace/STEM Lab at your school.
3. Reach Out to Community Businesses / Organizations
Connect with some owners or managers of businesses within your community. Some businesses are happy to support education if they see a value in your vision. I was lucky enough to get connected with a manager at a local cellular town who let donated 25 refurbished phones and virtual reality goggles to our school. I had to pilot the program and sell him on the benefits, but because of his generosity our school was able to travel virtually all around the world and really live our learning! Some other businesses that may help support your Makerspace or STEM Lab vision could be Walmart, Kmart, Ace Hardware, McDonalds, Hardees, movie theaters, ice cream shops, or local coffee shops.
4. Ask for Donations from Parents/Guardians
At the beginning of my Makerspace project, the first thing I did was create a poster that we could send to parents asking for any old or unwanted supplies. These could be a great (free) start to your space. There's so much you can do with just cardboard!
5. Create a Fundraiser
Be creative! Think of ways that your community can help support your Makerspace or STEM Lab dreams. Some ideas that come to mind include...
Be Okay with Starting Small
You will never feel completely ready to start your Makerspace or STEM Lab. If you're beginning the journey with materials that students can use to create and invent- You're on the right track. Take your time and research the items that will best fit the needs of your students, teachers, and school. Remember, this is all about doing what's best for kids!