I first came across the concept of a Makerspace through MAKE magazine. I was familiar with hackerspaces but I had never heard of the term makerspace. Therefore, I was quite intrigued when Buffy Hamilton, a teacher-librarian that I admire from the USA, was sharing ways in which she was creating a makerspace culture in her school library program.
After participating and witnessing the 2012 Maker Camp I was inspired and motivated to facilitate this type of learning opportunity at my school library. I explored Henry Jenkin’s and Project New Media Literacies principles of participatory learning along with numerous other resources. According to these resources Participatory learning can be characterized by:
- Heightened motivation and new forms of engagement through meaningful play and experimentation;
- Learning that feels relevant to students’ identities and interests;
- Opportunities for creating using a variety media, tools and practices;
- Co-configured expertise where educators and students pool their skills and knowledge and share in the tasks of teaching and learning;
- An integrated system of learning where connections between home, school, community and world are enabled and encouraged.
As the 2012/2013 school year approached I wondered in what ways I could foster a participatory learning culture that could facilitate opportunities for knowledge creation? I decided to have a second round of library orientation, and for students in grades 5-8 I introduced the concept of a Makerspace to them. I had quite a few students that expressed an interest in technology and crafts, and so the makerspace began based on their interests. Currently we are meeting every other week over lunch. So far the craft group has created friendship bracelets and toilet paper roll creatures and have been exploring with polymer clay. The technology group has been dabbling in coding using an Arduino, learning Scratch and exploring the Raspberry Pi.
I have connected with a wide variety of community members to help make this possible. Saskatoon Tech Works has been very supportive and members have been volunteering their time to help the students and I. My husband and a few of his engineering friends have also been volunteering their time to help make this possible.
I have created a blog for the students to access for information and for us to share our projects and learning. Stay tuned for more information on our makerspace at Greystone Heights School by visiting and following our GHS Makerspace blog.