We’ve had an exciting year!
In September 2015, the Makerspace at La Escuelita Elementary (or La Makerspace) was little more than an idea. Thanks to a generous grant from NGLC in Oakland, we had the capacity to make a space for students to receive personalized learning by way of Making. With some help from two volunteers from Lighthouse Charter’s Creativity Lab, we were able to convert our library’s book supply room into a functional Makerspace. We stocked it with tools and materials, anything we thought students might need. Then we let them use it however they wanted.
In late October, our new Makerspace Manager, Rei Jackler, joined the team. Ms Rei (as the kids call her) reorganized the Makerspace and wrote up a rough curriculum to guide students’ learning. La Makerspace transitioned to become a mix between a traditional art class and science lab, where students were encouraged to experiment with materials and tools in order to express themselves. Every class spent at least an hour a week in La Makerspace, with some students coming in during recess to continue working and learning.
Since October, Ms Rei has led the students in a number of projects, all designed to further students’ understanding of both the world around them and their ability to shape that world.
Several projects this year have revolved around the theme of electricity and circuits. Students have built paper circuit mosaics out of copper tape and LEDs. They have learned about making parallel and series circuits through experiments with circuit blocks, using their knowledge to make complex webs of light and sound.
Students have also explored the entire design process. They examined projects and products to determine how they were designed, discovering the parts, purposes, and complexities of even the simplest objects. They used what they learned to start designing their own toys. Brainstorming, blueprinting, prototyping, building, and rebuilding, they followed the design process through to the end.
Near the end of the year, students visited both the Lighthouse Mini Maker Faire and the Bay Area Maker Faire. They used these opportunities to connect with the maker community and share ideas, all while seeing and admiring what other makers had created. They came back from both these trips overflowing with ideas for what to make next.
We finished out the year by using La Makerspace to put on a play. Students created their own sets, costumes, and props before performing in front of their parents and peers.
Over the course of this year, enthusiasm for La Makerspace has grown throughout the school. Without the students, teachers, volunteers, and parents supporting it, La Makerspace could never have expanded into the project-based learning environment it has become.