Lab to Makerspace

Here, a Makerspace is a hybrid of a traditional lab's (e.g wood/metal shop, cooking/sewing, science lab, computer lab) function combined with raw materials and technology tools, designed from a project-based culture to facilitate a unique fabricating place for students. 

K-12 Makerspaces transcend a fixed or cookie-cutter definition as many of these spaces incorporate different elements of a workshop, lab and studio environments based on age-appropriateness. By design, makerspaces are unique unto themselves and should reflect the maker culture and skills of the people who created and directly participate in the space. What all makerspaces do share in common is the facilitation of project-based learning. These learning spaces are equipped with a variety of hands-on materials, tools and resources designed for student engagement and collaboration, to make lots of different things. 

Maker culture often called the Maker Movement, has helped bring back hands-on curriculum resources and tools eliminated by many public schools in the United States over the past 35 years. Through budget cuts and an academic philosophy that making skills did not prepare students for college, learning spaces such as wood and metal shops, home economics, art studios, music studios and science laboratories were dismantled. Since the 1980's, the only systematic K-12 replacement for all these tools, was the advancement of personal computers coming into classrooms and the advent of the whole class computer lab. Even today, many new computer labs are patterned like traditional 20th-century classrooms in traditional rows of desks and chairs, with all students doing the same activity.

In the coming years, we will see computer labs dismantled and replaced with very eclectic makerspaces to match common core standards executed through an integrated studies hands-on curriculum. Makerspaces help us get back to the future; using something old, like all kinds of raw materials, with using something new, like all kinds of digital devices. Bringing all these elements together, students learn by doing and increase their ability to understand concepts and the world at large.

I acknowledge the need for specific labs like a high school chemistry lab to be set up in a standardized setup for safety and function. However, there are different types of labs that need a transformation as the curriculum becomes more interdisciplinary. The STEAM curriculum movement of integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math is a leading example within the United States. Someday, we'll include Humanities with Literacy running through it all so we can just move to the holy grail of Integrated Studies.

In a MakerSpace type of environment, we utilize "micro making spaces" to include furniture and equipment that facilitate writing, designing and building in the same space to better facilitate projects.
Micro Making Spaces are not limited, but may include:
  • Heavy duty cutting board or metal workshop top tables with stools for standing or sitting
  • Nesting Tables and Task Chairs with casters to repurpose the space
  • Mobile Workstation Utility carts used next to nesting tables
  • Desktop Computers and Tables with locking cord management tray
  • Lego Wall
  • 3D Printers
  • Floor mats for individual or group floor work
  • Storage cabinets using plastic containers to organize Robotic kits and STEAM resources and materials
  • Mobile whiteboards
Makerspace Showcase Slideshows



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