The GCAA Makerspace has been open for three days! We’re proud to have had 91 unique student visitors in this time.
When a student arrives in the Makerspace for the first time she begins working on the orientation process. The goal of orientation is to learn about each other, the space, the tools/supplies available, and the design thinking process.
The first step to orientation is to make a name tag and sign up for an Edmodo account. Name tags are primarily so we can start to learn each other’s names since there are students from all grades in the Makerspace. Edmodo allows me to easily communicate with students and share links, feedback, and resources.
The second step is a Makerspace scavenger hunt, completed via a Google Form. This helps students discover the culture of “I’m free to look around in here” and also allows them to identify key supplies/locations around the room. The last step of the scavenger hunt is to find a D battery, gator clip, and light bulb, and then make the light bulb light up. Students at Harvard struggled with the task, but for our Makerspace students, it’s no problem!
The third step is a brief tutorial of Arduino, Tinkercad, Scratch, or Ruby. Students choose one of the tutorials to complete. The purpose for assigning a tutorial is to build a base of Makerspace students that are familiar with the available tools as they approach various design challenges.
The fourth step of the tutorial is to submit a prototype for the Weekly Design Challenge. This week’s design challenge is to “build a chair that can support your weight.” Submitting a prototype to the Weekly Design Challenge will give students an experience they can utilize as they communicate the design thinking process. As an example, an 8th grader made a chair today that collapsed immediately. He iterated/improved his prototype and then made a chair out of cardboard that supports even MY weight.
Following completion of the 4 orientation steps, students earn a “GCAA Maker” stamp on their name tag. This means they are free to use the Makerspace to work on their own long-term projects, submit a design for the Weekly Design Challenge, apply for grants, or practice building skills with one of the tools we have.
Just like everything, our Makerspace Orientation has been a design process. Step 1 was initially a long student survey that was killing momentum, thanks to Edmodo that was quickly scrapped and we were able to pivot to version 1.1. Even a small adjustment in the laptop cart has helped orientation go much smoother.