As STEAM, an increasingly popular approach to education that goes one better than STEM to include the arts in it too, becomes more prevalent in schools; there are increasing numbers of maker spaces popping up. These areas provide creative and hands-on ways to encourage children to invent, build, experiment and design while the engage more deeply in the world of science, engineering, technology, arts and mathematics.
However, it is worth remembering that a maker space does not just need to be an art room, computer lab, wood shop or science lab. It could be a place in the school that features elements relevant to all of these kinds of areas. It, therefore, needs to be designed in such a way to accommodate as wide an array of different materials, tools and activities as possible.
To help you get started in setting up a dedicated maker space at your school, we have put together some important tips and hints below.
Make Sure It’s Accessible
When choosing where to start your maker space, it is crucial that you choose a room or area that can be easily accessed by all children at the school. This includes any children with special needs or disabilities. Remember that this is a room that will be full of passionate discussion and noise.
Make It Flexible
Another important aspect of the maker space is that it is flexible and there is enough space that enables children to work as teams or on their own, depending on the projects they are involved in. Invest in furniture that can be easily moved and provide areas specific for using tools, and areas where discussions should happen.
Provide Electrical Points
Electricity is important to an effective maker space as children need to have space to plug in tools they are using, tablets and laptops. You should make extension cords available too, but remember that they can become a hazard if there are too many.
Kit The Area Out With Plenty Of Bins
Making is obviously a very messy business. Therefore, it is essential that your students have places to dispose of abandoned ideas or blueprints and plans they have updated as they proceed with their projects. To encourage them to be responsible, you could start a discussion about recycling and waste.
Provide The Right Tools
A maker space will only be as effective as the tools you provide in it. Therefore, figure out the tools that your students will need for the various projects and subjects they will be working on in the space and make sure there is enough for anyone and everyone that might be working there. Computers, 3D printers, screwdrivers, wood, cardboard, nails, glue, paper and hammers are just some of the tools that might be required.
As previously noted maker spaces obviously get very cluttered and messy very quickly. Clearly labelled and designated storage space is obviously necessary. It should be easily accessed by students so they don’t always have to ask for help reaching things or putting things away. There should also be a place to store the items they don’t need, such as their school bags and workbooks for other subjects can be kept out of the way.
First Aid Kits
All spaces in a school should have first aid kits and therefore this is an essential part of the maker space in your school. Injuries are possible in maker spaces, so it is crucial that you are prepared for the worst.