I’m Mary Geist and I’ve been the librarian at Belfield for 7 years. I first heard of Makerspaces at a librarians' conference. About the same time, our district’s professional development team began encouraging teachers to incorporate more “paperless learning” into our lessons.
We are a one-grade school in a rural district and serve about 180, mostly low income students.
Our school is the only one in the district that does not offer art or music classes. .
I have a small collection of learning centers in the library, including puzzles, board games, and an Art Cart with basic supplies. Last fall one of our teachers heard me say that I wanted to create some more hands-on centers for the library, and brought me a huge box of Legos from her attic. My students went wild over them! At least three have come up to me in the months since and told me they didn’t have Legos at home and had never played with them before. Even though I have lived in this area most of my life and have seen plenty of poverty, this still took me by surprise!
Our library is small, so I’m choosing maker activities that can be used by all classes, and are easy to swap out and store. Students will use Legos and Snap Circuits to complete a variety of increasingly complex STEM challenges. My teachers and I plan to use the tripod for a variety of multimedia projects, including video book trailers. We will use the hand tools for woodworking and crafts projects, and for disassembling computer components to explore how they work.
The goal of our Makerspace is to encourage open-ended creativity in our students, enabling them to become critical thinkers and problem solvers - skills essential to 21st Century success.
“Makerspaces are a natural evolution for libraries. We need to make the resources available to our students that will help guide their inquiry and exploration. Who can predict what our students will create when given the space and tools necessary?” (Goerner, SLJ, 1/15/15).
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