6 Essential Elements of a Meaningful Makerspace and How to Incorporate Them
What is the difference between a makerspace and a meaningful makerspace?
A makerspace is a place in a classroom, school, or library where students are encouraged to create, tinker, and explore.
Nevertheless, a meaningful makerspace goes beyond giving students Legos and telling them to build.
Rather, a meaningful makerspace is set up intentionally to foster collaboration and problem solving centered around real-world problems.
The following are the 6 essential elements of a meaningful makerspace and how to incorporate them.
1.) A Purpose
A meaningful makerspace has a purpose!
Don’t create a makerspace just because it is “the next big thing” or because you saw some pictures of makerspaces on Instagram.
Begin with a purpose by setting goals for your space. Think about how you want students to use the space and about what you want the makerspace to accomplish.
2.) The Right Supplies
The focus of a makerspace is generally centered around all of the fancy equipment and technology. Rather than focusing on all of the stuff, begin with the belief that a makerspace is a mindset, not a place.
The ultimate goal of a makerspace should be to foster a maker mindset in students. We want this mindset to permeate our classrooms and schools.
This goal can be accomplished with fancy technology, but it can also be accomplished using recyclables and tape.
Regardless of budget size, everything that is purchased for the makerspace should be filtered through the makerspace goals and purpose.
You can find tips for getting Free or Cheap Makerspace materials in this post.
Once we have collected supplies for our space they need to be organized. By keeping supplies organized instruction time is maximized as students are not wasting time tracking down items.
We recommend using clear plastic bins to store materials since it is easy to see what is inside. All bins should be labeled.
4.) Well Managed
An important component of a meaningful makerspace is having effective routines and procedures. Procedures need to be put in place for keeping materials organized as well as keeping the makerspace clean.
Routines also need to be established for working in groups. Group roles and expectations should also be taught, modeled, and continually practiced.
5.) A Process
When students are working in the makerspace they should be using a specific process. That process is the engineering design process.
The engineering design process needs to be taught to students before they begin using it as they work through challenges in the makerspace.
We recommend introducing the engineering design process using read-alouds. Students can use a mini clip chart to track each phase of the process that the characters in the story are going through.
6.) Meaningful Tasks
Students need to be given meaningful tasks when they are working in the makerspace. We recommend starting with whole group structured tasks and moving toward small group and individual unstructured tasks.
In the Meaningful Makerspace Course we walk you through how to create a structured STEM lesson as well as how to engage students in meaningful makerspace tasks using task cards.
Included in the course are lesson plan templates, example STEM challenges, sample task cards and an editable task card template.
Want to learn more about how to create a meaningful makerspace? We have an entire self-paced course complete with video trainings, tools, and resources! Each video walks you through one aspect of a meaningful makerspace and gives you concrete action steps and templates to help you build a meaningful place for students to create.