A Checklist for Designing Makerspace Experiences

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Students use a checklist to get our sewing machine started.

How might we better design student Makerspace experiences?

It’s exciting to think that 7th graders who first accessed our pilot Makerspace in 2012-2013 will be 10th graders this year.  In that time we’ve learned a lot about how students best learn in a Makerspace – but collecting, consolidating, and applying that learning can be tricky.

In The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right Atul Gawande proposes (and validates) that a simple checklist can help externalize the explicit tasks associated with complex activities. He explores the history of checklists, development of the World Health Organization Surgical Safety checklist, and even offers a Checklist for Checklists.  Gawande acknowledges that craftspeople often shy away from checklists due to the perception that they diminish one’s expertise and creativity, but provides evidence that they help to enhance one’s quality of work.  Upon piloting in eight hospitals globally, the Surgical Safety Checklist reduced patient deaths and complications by 1/3rd!

I finished reading Gawande’s book yesterday, and thought that given the unique nature of Makerspace learning, it would be helpful to design a Checklist for Designing Makerspace Experiences.  Gawande writes that the best checklists offer opportunity for tweaking, and so I plan to test/iterate when students return this fall.

A .docx version of the checklist can be accessed here.

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