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Starting a makerspace

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Duration: 2:41

Stephen Lethbridge (former principal) and teachers explain why and how they developed a makerspace at Taupaki School. Schools need to think, “What do we want our kids to be doing in the future?” Maker culture supports creativity and problem solving. (Filmed September 2015)

Stephen Lethbridge: Any school that’s thinking about implementing a makerspace needs to think about why they’re doing it. We’ve coined the term, “You don’t need a space to make” because making is a natural part of every child that comes into our school. They’ve usually played with lego or built things out of blocks so what we want to do is enhance that and welcome that into a classroom environment. If we have dedicated spaces where you go to make that’s reminiscent of the old computer lab where you went to use computers. What we have is in our technology centre. We have spaces where people can go and use tools and I think that’s where we need to head – spaces that are safe in order to work, to use tools like 3D printers, or laser cutters ,or even traditional things like scroll saws, or hand saws and hammers.

Student: Make club’s just about making and programming stuff and also you can make robots there. There’s heaps of computers there so you can program stuff and use Tinkercad and yeah.

Andy Croak: It’s easy to fall into the trap to think we don’t have a 3D printer, we don’t have, you know, laptops for everyone to use, we don’t have electronics equipment and all those things. If you’re starting on the journey, it’s as simple as you know getting the cardboard out and the sellotape and mocking up an idea. I guess the whole thing, as well, is that it’s also not really about the space. Most of the maker stuff that we do isn’t in the tech block, it’s in the classroom, it’s on the playground, and quite often they bring stuff from home. Yeah, the entry point is not as high or out of reach as you think it is. Quite often the stuff that you get to do is really simple and actually quite accessible.

Kate Davidson: I think for other teachers, the most important thing is to start now, choose a small, easy to do project and just do it and be inspired by how motivated the kids will be.

Stephen Lethbridge: Advice to new schools? Go and find and see other places that are doing these things. The rationale for a school setting up a makerspace shouldn’t be, we’ve got a spare room, the new buzzword is maker culture, let’s just put some 3D printers in and see what happens. It needs to be tied to vision, so I would suggest that schools need to think, “What do we want our kids to be doing in the future?” And we want them to be agile, we want them to be flexible, and we want them to be creative in their thought and maker culture is a way of doing it.

Tags: Primary, Collaborative learning, Vision, Leadership, Makerspace