By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — There are some terms heard more often today in association with education which, in reality, are putting a label on something that has already existed in classrooms. One of those terms is “makerspace.”
Makerspace can be and often is broadly defined. Ryan Edgar, Wawasee Middle School teacher, said it is simply a lab where kids can make and create stuff. A teacher of robotics for several years, he has seen elements of a makerspace when his students build their robots.
During the summer months at WMS a wall was removed between two rooms to create one larger room and new flooring and ceiling tiles were installed, as well as a white board and the room was given a fresh coat of paint. Edgar teaches in this classroom where the plan is to eventually incorporate more of a makerspace.
At WMS more specifically, that is blending the older school concept of industrial arts (woodworking for one example) with newer technologies to create a space for students to use their hands and-or minds to create something. Edgar noted “we are looking at more makerspace activities,” adding the school purchased a new cricut machine that can cut vinyl “which we are looking at using for projects.”
For a specific example, he picked up a coaster lying on a table nearby with his last name on it as the “logo” and said students could possibly design their own coasters or “something they can design and then give to somebody.”
Makerspace can mean different things depending on where it is used. In the elementary school grade levels, it is more often students making crafty type things. At the high school level, it is more technology based. Edgar noted, for example, there is a laser engraver which can be used at Wawasee High School.
Using 3D printers is also something to be used with makerspace activities in the classroom. And Edgar said if learning goes virtual again for an extended period of time, he will have his students use 3D models online to design projects.
Edgar also teaches Project Lead The Way classes and said he may have to cut back some on teaching robotics in order to teach makerspace activities. The concept is still in progress at WMS.
Robotics competitions will still be held this school year, but will be more virtual. Students will stay at their school and through a live feed will present their robots to a panel of judges who will then give a score on the presentations.