An Amazing Year!

Students were asked to list six adjectives that describe the Makerspace.

Students were asked to list six adjectives that describe the Makerspace.

What an incredible year it has been for the GCAA Makerspace.  Thank you to all of our staff, parents, and community members for your support of this endeavor.  To the over 400 GCAA students who dropped in over 10,000 times to the Makerspace this year – thank you for your leadership, collaboration, and creative confidence.  You have made the Makerspace what it is today.

We had many sponsors this year.  Thank you to supporters who contributed to the Makerspace Grant Program through our GoFundMe site, purchased off of our Amazon Wish List, or helped fund the purchase of our vinyl cutter and tool box via Donorschoose. Thank you also to our sponsors at from Bo Beuckman Ford, Elmer’s, Maritz, the Missouri Environmental Educators Association, Scottrade, and Shearwater Education Foundation.  Also, special thanks to Stanford d.School for the mental model of design thinking which is the root of our work and Pixel Press for partnering with us to help teach students digital design.

Two years ago, the GCAA Makerspace was a pilot program.  It took place in a small office, and was accessible only to 7th graders and only on Fridays.  The total budget for the year was $100.  The success Gregory Hill had with that pilot led to support for this year’s scaled iteration of the Makerspace.

One year ago today, the GCAA Makerspace was a blueprint.  We upgraded to an amazing space adjacent to the library and acquired a plethora of prototyping materials.  It’s been a whirlwind of a year, but we’ve had lots of fun.  In fact, when Makerspace students were asked to list six adjectives that described the Makerspace, “fun”, “creative”, “awesome”, and “cool”  were the most common responses.

Oh . . . and there’s been learning too.  Students have learned design thinking through the tools of 3D modeling, animation, video game design, programming, and circuitry.  They’ve also built grit, measurement skills, project management skills, and writing skills.  Twenty-eight students learned what it is like to be entrenpreneurs as they took their product designs to the open market, applying for a business license, loan, and grant opportunities.  All of these experiences are having an impact on students’ self-perception.  Makerspace students are ending the year seeing themselves as designers and having an enhanced affinity for science, technology, and engineering.  This is great growth from the beginning of the year when a majority of students thought of STEM professionals as white, nerdy-looking, males.

When asked, “What are the three most important things you have learned in Makerspace?” One sixth grader wrote:

“I can do a lot of things that I didn’t know I can do.  Keep on trying and you will achieve.  Never stop making.”

As we venture into year two, we welcome the addition of three electives that will be hosted in the Makerspace.  There will be a 10th & 11th grade “STEAM Innovation Lab,” a 7th & 8th grade “Make, Hack, Play” course (hat tip to Vinnie Vrotny), and a semester long middle school “Design Thinking” class.  We hypothesize that these courses, in addition to the open access time, will help encourage even higher quality designs.

There are lots of other changes and enhancements to the Makerspace in the works.  Stay tuned to this Makerspace blog for news & updates.