One of the most beneficial aspects of makerspaces is their ability to transform students into confident creators. Because these spaces invite children to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in a hands-on way, they help children develop a lifelong interest in these innovative fields.
However, just having a makerspace available for students to use is not enough to build interest in STEM. Instead, educators should play an active role in developing curricula that promote engagement. Below is a selection of tips on how to do just that from our recently published whitepaper: How to Cultivate a Maker Mindset in Your Makerspace.
1. Deemphasize the Importance of Technology
While laser cutters, 3D printers and circuit boards are incredible in their capacity to produce nearly anything students can imagine, successful makerspaces don’t need the latest and greatest technology. Instead, a maker mindset can be cultivated using found and donated materials such as cardboard, duct tape, fabric and plastic bottles. By focusing on the creative process rather than the tools, educators can help students practice skills they can take with them the rest of their lives.
2. Promote Community and Collaboration
Just as the desire to create is a human desire, so too is the need to connect with others. Makerspaces enable these connections by creating a centralized place that promotes the importance of working together. Here, group work occurs naturally and often without the prompting of an educator. To nurture this cooperative environment in your school’s makerspace, when possible, have students troubleshoot problems that their friends might have when working on their projects. Through these interactions, ideas often combine to form even better and more creative solutions.
3. Embrace the Act of Guided Play
According to Alison Gopnik, psychology professor at the University of California, playing teaches us how to deal with the unexpected. Makerspaces provide environments where children are encouraged to discover on their own terms, giving them the agency to solve problems in unique and interesting ways and augmenting the learning in a classroom. When students are allowed to explore through the act of play, they will naturally develop a passion for what they’re learning.
Learn More Ways to Make the Most of Your Makerspace!
To learn more about how to grow a maker mindset within your students, and how to make the most of your makerspace, we invite you to download our free white paper, “How to Cultivate a Maker Mindset in Your Makerspace.”