Corbett Prep Maker Space
Promotes Imagination, Enrichment for All Ages
Teachers are developing Maker Space projects to enhance units of study and provide new opportunities in STEAM education.
Nov. 10, 2016 (TAMPA, Fla.) – Marbles fly down a foam chute as students experiment with roller coaster design to create tracks that spiral and loop. In another class period, students transform recyclables into clocks and timepieces that early explorers may have used. After school, members of the biology club don goggles and plastic gowns to learn about anatomy through dissections.
Corbett Prep’s new Maker Space has become a hub for imaginative and enriching activities, as teachers develop projects to enhance their units of study and provide new opportunities in STEAM education. The variety of what students have experienced and what’s to come reflects the different components of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Art of Design and Mathematics. It builds upon the Maker Monday program developed by the Mighty Monkeys.
Since opening this school year, the Maker Space has welcomed classes, small groups and special clubs. Having this designated spot for STEAM means that teachers can have supplies and equipment at the ready, said Upper Primary teacher Ted Richter. The Maker Space provides a home for items that would be too large for a traditional classroom to store, such as computer parts, and makes it easy for multiple classes to share supplies.
It has given teachers increased flexibility in how they plan their lessons and opened up more options to provide science-oriented clubs after school, Richter said. Upper Primary teachers regularly take first and second graders to the Maker Space for their life science classes and are planning to start “tinkering lunches” where students can explore, build and create. Richter and third-grade teacher Tracey Price recently added a second session of “Splat Club” after school for students in third through eighth grade who want to see how body systems work by dissecting frogs, insects, cow eyes and more.
Maker Spaces come in all sizes and are meant to inspire curiosity, promote problem solving and help students develop critical thinking skills. Visiting Corbett Prep’s Maker Space with classmates puts students in the correct mindset for the challenges and creative tasks they will face, said STEAM specialist John Palmer. They can shift gears more easily between subjects. They know when they enter what the rules of the space are, similar to knowing how to behave when they enter the music, drama or art rooms.
The third- and fourth-grade All Stars recently visited the Maker Space for a hands-on extension of their International Baccalaureate unit on how discoveries lead to change. The students worked in small groups to design compasses, clocks and other items that world explorers relied on centuries ago. They researched their projects, developed designs and then figured out how to execute the plans with household items, using trial and error.
In addition to learning more about the time period they are studying, the process of designing and testing pushes students to start thinking about obstacles in different ways and learn to work together to accomplish goals.
“Every project has its challenges,” Palmer told the students in the Maker Space. “Your job is to figure out what really works for you and your team.”