Kids and teens seem naturally drawn to technology. They are undaunted when it comes to mastering the new features of each new software update on their smartphones and tablets. When it comes to discovery and hands-on learning, children naturally approach technology with a maker mindset. They explore and experiment without hesitation. They problem-solve with their peers, evaluating efforts and sharing knowledge. They take ownership of the challenge.
Research tells us that the use of digital tools and connected learning techniques increase student engagement. No matter what area of the K-12 curriculum you teach, giving children space to use maker technology and strategies can spark enthusiasm in your classroom and help students master critical knowledge and skills.
You don’t need expensive equipment to create your own makerspace. Begin with a dedicated space in your classroom or school, stocked with basic materials and tools. If you’re low on space, mobile makerspaces on carts have been used by a number of schools with great success. Then commence with entry-level digital tools, such as visual programming software, 3D printers and digital storytelling.
Making a makerspace
There are four key elements to fostering a maker mindset in your classroom:
1. A playful, experimental approach
2. Focus on asset- and growth-oriented learning
3. Reminders that “iterations” (not “failures”) are needed to achieve success
4. Emphasis on teamwork and collaboration
With these elements, it’s easy to see what the maker mindset can bring to the K-12 classroom. Engaging your students with that mindset and digital tools will not only increase STEM learning, it will also help prepare them for living and working in the 21st century.