Makerspaces provide students the opportunity to create visuals for school assignments, perform science experiments, and even build robots. Projects are only limited by the space’s leader and students’ imaginations and ingenuity. Through Makerspace projects, students of all ages can learn problem solving, collaboration with others to work as a team, and job skills like computer programming, user interface design, and even social media networking. These skills can be applied to future STEM jobs, or at least prepare students for HOW to approach learning marketable skills. This blog shares some project ideas and curriculum examples to get you started with your Makerspace.
K-6 Makerspace Curriculum Ideas
Because they are still learning about how life works, elementary school students tend to be more curious and the most willing to try something, even if it fails. Getting them to try something isn’t going to be the hard part, but they may need some guidance. Setting up a project can be as simple as asking a question: What kind of building can you make out of cardboard? What is a tool that you need at home right now? What can you design using popsicle sticks, bottle caps, and/or water bottles? What problem would it solve?
One example of a ready made curriculum to try is a free program for elementary schoolers to learn about computer programming called Alice, a project developed by students at Carnegie Mellon. With plenty of people discussing Elementary Makerspaces and resources, these areas can create a fun and educational environment for any child.
Looking for More Ideas? Here are some great examples of Elementary School Makerspace Projects:
Middle School Makerspace Curriculum Ideas
Giving middle schoolers the ability to take charge of their own learning encourages engagement and active participation. At this level, competitions and scholarships can come more into focus, and higher stakes can often provide motivation for students.
One example of a way to get students excited in the Makerspace is to encourage participation in a science fair or competition. Science fairs have become more and more competitive, and the days of exploding model volcanos are long gone. Students can now program games, design smart phone apps, and make software with the right tools. With more access to resources, students can now win more scholarships and take their projects farther along than ever before possible.
Prestigious national science competitions include:
High School Makerspace Curriculum Ideas
With more schooling comes more elaborate projects. With more elaborate projects, having access to good equipment will ensure that the next generation will have the skills necessary to enter the job market, especially in STEM. Think of what these two self-taught brothers from Haiti could do with an equipped Makerspace.
Here are some of the most innovative science fair winners of 2015 in some of the most prestigious science competitions:
- Olivia Hallisey, 17, won the Google Science Fair for an Ebola test that takes 30 minutes and doesn’t require refrigeration.
- Hannah Herbst, 14, won the Discovery 3M Young Scientist Challenge by “creating an energy probe prototype that seeks to offer a stable power source to developing countries by using untapped energy from ocean currents.”
- Raymond Wang, 17, won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for engineering a new air inlet system for airplane cabins to improve air quality and decrease the chances of disease transmission.
Imagine what these students can contribute to our world as they get older. With a good Makerspace, these and other students can go even farther and do more than before.
Whatever you decide to do with a Makerspace, the students will be sure to enjoy the opportunity for hands on learning. The Makerspace puts abstract applications into real-life situations, making it the best way to show, not tell.