Hack Your Classroom - Week Four: Introduction to Makerspaces and the Maker culture

Awesome classroom makerspace from
http://bpcsteam.blogspot.co.nz/2013/09/introducing-our-bpc-makerspace.html

What is a Makerspace?
Makerspace describe a makerspace as community centres with tools. Makerspaces combine manufacturing equipment, community, and education for the purposes of enabling community members to design, prototype and create manufactured works that wouldn’t be possible to create with the resources available to individuals working alone. These spaces can take the form of loosely-organized individuals sharing space and tools, for-profit companies, non-profit corporations, organizations affiliated with or hosted within schools, universities or libraries, and more. All are united in the purpose of providing access to equipment, community, and education, and all are unique in exactly how they are arranged to fit the purposes of the community they serve.

Makerspaces represent the democratization of design, engineering, fabrication and education. They are a fairly new phenomenon, but are beginning to produce projects with significant national impacts.
Source: http://makerspace.com/

Whilst Edutopia provides this description which I really like for it's simplicity:
A makerspace is not solely a science lab, woodshop, computer lab or art room, but it may contain elements found in all of these familiar spaces. Therefore, it must be designed to accommodate a wide range of activities, tools and materials. Diversity and cross-pollination of activities are critical to the design, making and exploration process, and they are what set makerspaces and STEAM labs apart from single-use spaces. A possible range of activities might include:

Cardboard construction
Prototyping
Woodworking
Electronics
Robotics
Digital fabrication
Building bicycles and kinetic machines
Textiles and sewing

Source: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/designing-a-school-makerspace-jennifer-cooper

I think we can explore Makerspaces on a number of levels. We can think about how we can utilise better the various community makerspaces popping up all over New Zealand (see the list down the bottom for starters). We can consider how a makerspace can be developed within a school community - maybe by revisioning the technology department (and making it available for all students and teachers) or maybe this could be part of how we revision the school library - Auckland City Library run a Makerspace...so why not your library?? We can also consider how we might create a makerspace in the corner of the classroom (see the great on in the picture above - that's the corner of a Life Science class in the US). If you have a makerspace in your community, school or classroom that you would like to share - please let me know!!!

Why Makerspaces?
So why do we need to thinking about makerspaces? Personally I think all teachers and all classes should be looking to develop one. The reason I think this is simply - they develop 21st Century Skills (particularly critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and problem solving) and provide students with opportunities to engage in constructivist/deep learning. Look at our New Zealand Curriculum and I also see many opportunities within a makerspace environment to engage in effective pedagogy and for students develop a wide range of competencies.

Source: http://www.p21.org/

I also really like this explanation provided in the Edutopia post 'Creating makerspaces in Schools'. 
We are constantly bombarded with the idea that the U.S. is "behind" the rest of the world in STEM education, that our students need to be able to think critically, problem-solve and collaborate in order to succeed in the future they will inhabit. (Forget the fact that critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration are part of what schools should be designed to support in the first place.) Makerspaces provide creative time and, well, space for people of all ages to build prototypes, explore questions, fail and retry, bounce ideas off one another and build something together. These spaces don't always include technology, since some prototypes and designs can be built out of anything or may include various stages of design that move from analog to digital and back again, but many do include technology. In the 3D printing and design thinking session, I was lucky enough to see how students might create a 3D design using CAD software, only to discover that their scale was off or that their prototype just plain won't work
Source: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/creating-makerspaces-in-schools-mary-beth-hertz

How can you set one up in your school (or even classroom)?
If you are thinking big and looking at developing a community or school makerspace, I suggest you check out these resources from Makerspace - they look like pretty bloody thorough start up guides for a uber makerspace! I will also be interviewing Richard Fortune from Makercrate and Makers Org NZ about how it can be achieved on a smaller scale (and budget) as well.

But if you are thinking of going #hackyrclass styles then check this blog out. I love the idea of a makerspace in the corner or maybe even a really big box. I know as an English teacher I would love access to a 3D printer, sewing machine, playdough, glue gun, wood, nail, hammer, robots to make thinking, debating, creating come to life. One of my best teaching experiences was getting my Year 13s to create wearable arts pieces to explore the themes and motifs in 'The Piano' - the products were stunning, the thinking and exploration the students engaged in was epic! 

Would love to hear your thoughts this week on how you think you could develop a makerspace in your class and how you see it as an opportunity to enhance teaching and learning in your own educational context. Remember to share on twitter with the #hackyrclass #makerspace hashtags.

Remember, even if you can create one on site, their are community makerspaces popping up all over the place.
Makerspaces around Auckland (let me know about ones around NZ and I will add them)

When: Wednesday and Friday 5pm - 8pm, and Saturday - Sunday 1pm - 4pm
Where: Central City Library Makerspace, Level 1 
Cost: Free 

A "makerspace" is a place where people can collaborate, innovate and create using information, resources and tools provided.
You can play, tinker, explore, and meet others with similar interests to share knowledge and make connections with.
Come and experiment with the help of library staff during our free-use hours. The space will be equipped with computers using free open-source software, a 3D printer and robotics kits are available to use.

The Mind Lab by Unitec is a collaboration between Unitec Institute of Technology and The Mind Lab. It draws on the education expertise of both organisations to provide teachers and their students with the opportunity to learn how to integrate technology, enhance digital capability and activate new teaching practices in the classroom.

Tangleball is an Auckland-based "Makerspace" or "Hackerspace". We provide a place for creative people to collaborate on building their ideas and aim to nurture both technical and artistic ideas. The best way to get in contact with us is by coming to the space on a Tuesday evening, from 8pm. 

Sources
I found lots of great reading around this topic. Make sure you check out some of the following:

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