This Thursday I was lucky enough to visit a Makerspace and STEM lab that has been successfully running for over a year. Dain (@DainElman), 'STEM Lord' within his district, showed me around these unique spaces. The rooms were both strategically developed last year after the entire library was cleared out and redesigned.
The Makerspace created at Dain's school came from a space that was previously the librarian's office. The newly designed area gets digitally checked out every day by teachers. This space been used to create models of cells by science teachers, recycled art by art teachers, and even rock climbing holds by the gym teachers. I grew intrigued to hear how each different subject area in the middle school had used the space in a unique way. The area Dain used for his Makerspace definitely didn't have a shortage of supplies to spark creativity for students or teachers. When I first walked in, I noticed the piles of cardboard, recycled materials, wood, beads, glue, tools, and tiles. Anything you could imagine that could be used to create something was in this space. Dain had acquired many donated materials from an outside organization, but he mentioned supplies was also regularly dropped off from teachers after they were done cleaning their basements. I couldn't help but feel like this Makerspace was basically a workshop. The area exuded the possibility of creating anything- What a great space for students to create inventions and projects in their own personalized and creative way!
The STEM Lab was across the library and filled with technology and creative spaces for students to produce work. This area stored Makey Makeys, Spheros, LEGO Mindstroms, a Green Screen kit, 3D Pens, LittleBits, a 3D printer, and so much more! Dain shared with me that the space doesn't get used as much as the Makerspace, but the technology classes regularly use this space and give students time to explore new technology. I loved the amount of space that students have within this room to collaborate and work. Dain also had a neat display of older technology (pictured below) that students could observe. There's an old Macintosh computer, dial-up phone, older televisions, and typewriters.
I gained some great ideas from my visit and started to contemplate if I want a hybrid -Makerspace/ STEM Lab at my school. My visit to Dain's school gave me a much clearer vision of what I think I'd like at our elementary school. The feedback and reflective data that Dain had accumulated over the course of the year was powerful to consider while continuing on my journey.