Thursday, February 26, 2015

Makerspace Club: All Hands on Deck!


One of the things that I was most concerned about when starting the Makerspace Club was making sure that all students could be active participants the entire time. I wanted students to have choice, explore different items, and most of all, to have fun. I knew that I needed to create a bit of structure, without it feeling like there was too much structure.

One of the ways that I have been able to ensure that all of the kids in the club can be hands-on the whole time is by creating 'stations' and taking the time at the beginning of each club to have a group meeting about all of the options available to them. At the group meeting I introduce new materials, review what we already have and what we've already done, and share Maker videos for a little inspiration.

We then make stations with all of the different supplies and students are free to roam from one to another. The stations have been split up as follows:

The Creation Station-

Here we use Lego bricks, wheels, car parts, and people to build whatever their hearts desire! Vehicles are definitely the most popular item to build, and they sure have been creative with them. I also highly recommend purchasing the Lego Education Community Set. The kids love all of the different people and accessories that they can mix and match. I've heard some very funny and clever stories about their Lego scenes, usually beginning with the Lego people. There was a chef who only cooks with bananas and lives in a tree and an 'undead race car driver'- to name a few. We also pull out the K'nex in this area. I will say the Legos have definitely trumped the K'nex in popularity so far. I also purchased the Lego Play book for this station and I've seen a number of kids flipping through it for inspiration. Other creation items include cardboard building pieces and origami.


The Breakerspace-

This station is a student favorite! I first read about having a take-apart station on Twitter from Media Specialist Laura Fleming and I thought it would be so interesting to actually get to tear apart technology! Here students have the opportunity to completely disassemble old, obsolete desktop computers, laptops, CD players, phones, and other old tech items donated by staff. Our first time incorporating the Breakerspace, there were four very determined girls who managed to take the entire computer apart and rebuild it within an hour! Listening to the kids talk through what each part does and why it was installed a certain way is so interesting. The critical thinking skills that they use while taking apart the old technology are really incredible! This was the easiest station to build. I just put out a request for old, unused technology, and the supplies started pouring in! Just make sure to remove any batteries before letting the kids go to town taking apart the technology.


The Makey-Makey Station-

Yes, the Makey-Makey gets a station all by itself, because it's that special! Seriously, the Makey-Makey is a must for a Makerspace. We have kids gathering around the kids who are using the Makey-Makey totally in awe.

Makey Makey Dance Dance Revolution
is a favorite activity!

They experiment with various conductive materials to create game controllers and play a variety of games online.
 We now have three Makey Makeys and they are always in high demand!




The Circuit Station-
We have a great snap circuit kit and it is one the favorite things to experiment with. The kids have made solar-powered circuits, circuits that buzz, and circuits that make a fan fly into the air and spin around! It's been fun to see all the variations of circuits that they create! We also have a Little Bits kit that the kids have had fun with developing circuits that spin or buzz or have a variety of different effects. We'd like to get a few more pieces added to this kit eventually so we can use them with the Lego creations. At our last meeting, a student had tons of fun making a buzzer that attached to your arm so you could surprise people when you shook their hand.

The Computer Station-

Coding, online Legos, exploring Google Earth, the sky is the limit for the kids who go here. When I asked if they preferred to build with Legos online, a few students said yes because they aren't limited to a certain number/type of blocks. They also showed me all the neat things you could do with Legos online. For coding, a few of the students have decided to continue past the hour of code event or past what we did in coding club. Some are completing the multi-level course from Code.org while others have moved to sites like Codecademy.com to try their hand at writing code.


The Virtual Reality Station-

Here we experiment with 4-D apps, both educational and the just for fun ones. We use many of the apps that I posted about here. I just love hearing the excited reactions as the images pop off the screen!

The Movie Making Station-

This is our newest station that we just added last week. I had been interested in what we could do with stop motion animation, and it turns out, so were many of the kids! A few were already very experienced with stop motion animation, while others were brand new to it. I was so impressed (I find myself feeling that way a lot with this group!) with the great stop motion videos that they made in a very short time! A few kids have been asking if they could keep working on them at lunch even!


Check one of the cool stop motion videos below:

Check out more of our stop motion videos here and here.

The Sphero Station-

The latest addition to the Makerspace has been a Sphero station. I'm planning a whole post dedicated to the amazing Sphero and the great things my Makerspace kids did with it. A Sphero is a great tool for learning about programming and robotics- or just a really fun way to control and drive the robot all around your school and experiment with apps and new ideas. We did a little of both!

Our Sphero Maze Challenge
Painting with a Sphero was a messy, but successful experiment!



And On and On We Go!

Having a variety of options and encouraging experimentation in different stations has really helped to make our Makerspace successful. I love that each week it grows and changes. I really believe that a Makerspace shouldn't be a stagnant thing. It should always be adapting, growing, and changing just as our students are!

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