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If You Let Them Build It, They Will Learn: An ode to and inside look at library makerspaces #makereducation

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In this piece, Laura Fleming at worldsoflearning.com, covers the historical and practical side of the modern library makerspace. She emphasizes their importance for both students and educators and provides some tips on how to create create a makerspace of your own.

It is my belief that every child has the right invent, tinker, create, innovate, make and do. This belief is what drove my mission to establish a makerspace here at New Milford High School. I am very proud of the fact that our makerspace transcends academic potential, social barriers and even language and development. Students of all levels can take full advantage of the resources and activities in this space. I often see students taking it upon themselves to help their peers and to inspire their peers to experiment, make and do. Our space sometimes is filled with our engineering and conceptual physics students, but also our english language learners and special needs students. We truly have democratized the tools and skills necessary to design and make things that were of interest to our students while, at the same time, exposing them all to a new world of possibilities. My makerspace is learner-driven and exploits the idea of experiential learning. It is a mash-up of differentiated learning experiences combining traditional elements and new technologies…

…The layout of our makerspace consists of ‘fixed’ stations and ‘flexible’ stations. The fixed stations are areas that are out in our makerspace all of the time for students to just walk in and sit down at and engage with. These include our littleBits bar, our Take-Apart Tech Station (or ‘breaker space’), our Lego table, our Makey-Makey station, and our 3-d Design and Printing station. The impetus behind choosing these to be our fixed stations was that I wanted to include activities that students would be able to start and complete during their limited time in the space as well as have them be able to do so independently, with little instruction on my part. This informal learning piece has been key in students wanting to visit the space and engage with the activities here on their free time…

…All good teachers today have to acknowledge that they are also learners, and setting up a maker space in your library is a great way to ensure that you, the teacher, cannot only learn new things from the space but to do so openly with your students, to let them see you and respect you as a learner just like them!

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