The opportunities for students to create through self-directed projects will grow in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 schools next year thanks to the expansion of “makerspaces.”
A makerspace is any learning environment that provides materials and equipment for students to conceive, create, collaborate and learn by building something in a self-directed way. It could be creating with circuits, making movies, coding, or as simple as constructing using Legos. The hands-on approach means students immerse themselves in problem solving and build life and career skills including planning, critical thinking and communication.
“It’s very much in the same vein as engineering and design work,” said Nancy Meyer, district elementary media coordinator. “We want students to be asking themselves how they can make their project better, solving problems and working together.”
“At the same time, these tie into the content they’re learning, often in several subject areas at the same time,” Meyer added. Often, makerspaces allow students to build and test ideas and concepts that they are exploring in math or science classes.
Although some schools have makerspaces started and available in their media centers, a concerted effort leading into 2016-17 school year, supported by funding from Vision One91 referendum and possibly by grants, will see more formal makerspaces created in schools.
“A committee of teachers and administrators is planning what materials could be made available,” said Rachel Gorton, instructional technology coordinator. “At both elementary and secondary schools, makerspaces will likely evolve over the next year as we learn what works best for teachers and students.”