Jupiter and Turner Elementary Schools Receive Grant to Establish Makerspaces Within Media CenterBy Diana Wehrell-Grabowski on June 10, 2016 in Makerspace, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education
Northrop Grumman recently awarded $135,000 to Brevard Schools Foundation to launch a pilot Innovation Center project in six Brevard schools, as well as support other Foundation programs. $120,000 of the $135K will fund the six Centers. The collaborative project was developed by Brevard Public Schools’ Gina Clark, Elementary Media Resource Teacher, and Ed Short, Elementary Science Resource Teacher. The project seeks to establish student-led collaborative inquiry-based STEM Makerspaces, or FabLabs, in the media center that range from high tech to low tech, integrate all curriculum content when appropriate, and are designed to help students create and think critically. The schools that will benefit from the grant are:
Hoover Middle School, Indialantic Elementary, Gemini Elementary, Central Middle School, Jupiter Elementary School, and Turner Elementary.
I had met two of the six Media Specialists from the grant recipient list above (Sharon Justin & Virginia Campbell) during a Makerspace Workshop I conducted for Teachers, School Administrators, and Media Specialists, at the Cocoa Beach Library in April, 2016. A couple months later I had the pleasure of meeting up with Media Specialists Virginia Campbell, Jupiter Elementary, and Sharon Justin, Turner Elementary during a consultative Makerspace visit to both of the neighboring schools. The two media center Makerspaces were established late Spring of 2016 as part of the Innovation Center Grant, thus they are in the early stages of their development. The day started off at Turner Elementary. Turner Elementary Makerspace is located within the Media Center, and has a designated space, it’s not a large space but sufficient for an elementary makerspace. Additionally, there is a large closet where access materials, supplies, and equipment are stored. There are options for expanding the existing designated space as well within the existing Media Center. Since the makerspace is early on its evolutionary stages Sharon was seeking advice on arranging the space (shelving, tables, etc.) as well as overall questions in regards to setting up makerspace “creation stations” etc. Virginia, Media Specialist at Jupiter was also present during the consultative visit at Turner which worked out well because the two Media Specialists had similar questions, were sharing ideas etc., and this is in-tune with the Maker Mindset of sharing ideas as well.
Some of the questions the two Media Specialists had in regards to establishing, maintaining, and sustaining their spaces included:
- How to use the designated space efficiently
- Setting up “creation stations and/or maker stations”
- Rotating stations/ centers
- Setting up Tinkering Stations as a fixed station (think deconstruction of VCRs, small electronics, toys, reverse engineering etc.).
- What materials, supplies, and kits to add to the existing makerspace materials
- Makerspaces are not just about making, it’s the process
- Incorporating STEM and STEAM practices and content within makerspaces
- Use of mini quad copters and drones in makerspaces
- How to get children to engage in other activities aside from the robotic and coding type activities/centers
- Coordinating makerspace stations and activities with the entire teaching staff within each school
- Organizing a makerspace Open House for parents at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year to educate the parents as to what a makerspace is, and what their child would be undertaking in the makerspace, as well as the Maker Mindset
- Safety in the makerspace
- How the “Maker Mindset” needs to transcend the entire school, not just only in the designated makerspace location
We then headed up the road only a couple of miles to check out Jupiter Elementary Makerspace. Jupiter Elementary Makerspace is not a shared space within the Media Center. It is a designated room located off the main Media Center space. Virginia has created an overflow area right off of the designated makerspace room into the main library that exists of a cozy reading area along with a marble roller coaster wall, and a variety of building kits on shelves. I’m sure everyone involved in creating or maintaining a makerspace knows that you can outgrow designated spaces within a short time, to find creative and efficient ways to use the designated space and co-exist with the Media Center is the key to establishing a makerspace that will flourish.
The Jupiter Elementary Makerspace is located within a 600 square foot room with storage, student tables, creation stations, White Boards, and more. Creative signage with Makerspace jargon adorn the walls to inspire the students.
Both Turner and Jupiter Elementary have similar equipment, materials, and supplies as part of the Innovation Center Grant. A sampling of the items in both school makerspaces include: littleBit Kits, Osmo, Makey Makey, Ozobot, Dash and Dot, Sphero, LEGO Wall, M-Bot, Mindstorm, Green Screen, Promethean Board, old electronics for deconstruction etc., an array of building blocks, an array of building related kits.
As the push for makerspaces in schools continues to grow, school administrators and media specialist that have embraced the Maker Mindset within schools are on the forefront of transforming how we teach and learn. The Maker Movement is not just about flashy gadgets, kits, toys, and making, it’s about the process. Kudos to Sharon Justin and Virginia Campbell, Brevard County School Board Media Specialists who are sharing their time, talents and knowledge to help Brevard County students develop 21st century skills, and have exposure to the “Maker Culture”, and most import a life-long love of learning. For more information about having Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski come out to your school, or public library for a consultative makerspace visit, Makerspace or STEM training contact her via the contact form on this site. The following photos are from Turner and Jupiter Elementary Makerspaces located in Brevard County, Florida.