6 Myths About Makerspaces
There are many misconceptions about what a makerspace is and what is required to set up and run a successful space. Unfortunately many of these misconceptions create unnecessary barriers for teachers looking to set up a makerspace.
The following are 6 myths that hold teachers back from setting up a makerspace or using their makerspace to its full potential.
If you are wanting to start a makerspaces be sure to sign up for our FREE Building a Makerspace E-mail Course.
Myth #1: Makerspaces and STEM Labs are the Same
While many makerspaces have a STEM focus, makerspaces and STEM Labs are not the same. The main difference is that activities in STEM Labs are typically teacher led while the goal of a makerspace is to provide a place for student directed learning.
A makerspace is a place in a classroom, library, or other common area of a school where students are encouraged to create, tinker, explore, discover, and invent using a variety of tools and materials. A true makerspace provides opportunities for open-ended exploration that all students can access.
Myth #2: Starting a Makerspace Requires a Large Budget
One potential barrier to getting started with makerspaces is the belief that you need to purchase pricey kits and expensive technology. While these items can be beneficial, they are not necessities.
Makerspaces should not be about the stuff. Rather, the focus should be on designing an educational experience that engages students and allows them to go deeper in their learning.
There are many inexpensive and even free makerspace materials. A great place to start is by asking for donations from your school families. Donations can include items that would normally be throw out such as recyclables and broken technology, which can be used for take apart activities.
You can find an editable parent letter and a list of requested materials in our Makerspace Bundle.
Myth #3: Makerspaces Are Only for Gifted Students
Another common misconception about makerspaces is that they are only for certain student groups such as gifted and talented. Other teachers may only use the space for specific purposes such as rewards for early finishers or after school clubs.
While these may be beneficial, the goal of the makerspace is to develop a maker mindset. This mindset should not just be taught to specific students or at specific times of the day.
Research has shown that makerspaces can improve peer-to-peer interaction, help boost student confidence, and allow students to take ownership of their learning. ALL students can and should benefit from the space.
Myth #4: Makerspace Require Lots of Space
Another potential barrier to getting a makerspace up and running is the belief that you need a lot of space. One great solution to this problem is setting up a makerspace cart.
In addition to not requiring much space, makerspace carts are also portable. They can be shared with multiple classes or even school-wide. Learn more about how to set up a makerspace cart HERE.
Myth #5: Makerspaces Can Only Center Around Science Topics
The idea that a makerspace is only for STEM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is another common misconception. Everyone is a maker and making can be a beneficial addition to any content area.
Makerspaces have been used in Language Arts classrooms, by social studies teachers, and they are even becoming a popular addition to libraries. Just because you don’t teach science, doesn’t mean that you can’t utilize a makerspace.
Myth #6: Once You Set Up a Makerspace Your Work is Done
The process of setting up a makerspace is never finished. Just as teachers continually revise their lessons based on data and student needs, the makerspace should continually be evolving to best meet the needs of students.