Thursday, 24 April 2014

Maker Stations in the Learning Commons

Build it and they will come... Or provide stuff and they will build it! Our Learning Commons evolved to include "Maker Spaces"... I didn't realize this was happening... We have a "Philosophers' Board", multiple "Lego Walls", gears, puppets, costumes and Raspberry Pis (among other tinkering things that are available at all times for student use). But the amazing discussion at this year's EdcampYYC helped me to find the solution for guided learning and maker spaces in our Learning Commons context.

The grade 6 students are building parachutes, and their contest is here. But why stop there? Today I introduced the "Parachute Maker Station" and opened it up to the school: Anyone who is interested can come in at lunch or recess, can use the supplied materials (or other materials, if they'd like), and can create their own parachute.

Best of all, they all know it is a grade 6 project, so if they need help they know who to ask! I've warned the 6s that questions could be coming their way, and was greeted with enthusiasm as they now see themselves as experts (YAY!). Which was handy today when we had 5 grade 4 students eagerly making their own parachutes (during lunch), and seeking help. I overheard a grade 4 ask a grade 6, "Why is there a hole in the middle of your parachute? Did you make a mistake?" (Great question!!).

This has really got me thinking... Could this work with cars?  Catapults? Clothing design? Looms? Pulleys? Could any design-based task work as a maker station?... I think we're starting to turn a corner in our LC, and I can feel the enthusiasm growing from our students!

Here are the directions for the station: