How to Create Successful and Sustainable Makerspaces in Low-Income and Rural Schools
What if you could offer students in low-income and rural schools a technology-based opportunity to develop the creative genius you know they have?
You’d provide a makerspace where students could explore, create, invent, and learn through authentic experiences. To make a dream like this successful and sustainable, the key ingredient lies in finding ways to make it tangible.
Develop a sustainable workspace
Although the idea behind the makerspace is to promote playful exploration, developing pathways within the space can improve sustainability.
Sustainability in your makerspace will lead to success, but the caveat here is to monitor the pathways to eliminate possible stereotyping and inequalities. Examples include pathways that are gender or race exclusive. Instead, the focus must remain on inclusiveness, even allowing makers to opt in and out of pathways.
Integrate real-world skills into the makerspace
A makerspace can be the right vehicle to integrate academic concepts in hands-on experiences.
Economically disadvantaged students may be less likely to have access to the resources they need for learning. Makerspace labs offer access to the tools students need, but more importantly, these hubs provide a way for students to connect their learning.
The Homewood-Brushton YMCA houses the Y Creator Space for children in the community, and Program Director Alexandra Rice has observed that students “get concepts and ideas quickly, but that is not always manifested in their schoolwork.”
Learning integrated into makerspace activities include:
- Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concepts
- Communication skills requiring listening, speaking, writing, and reading
- Design and creativity
- Responsible digital technology citizenship
Create a makerspace in your community
Don’t let limited space confine your dreams of creating a successful and sustainable makerspace in your community. You can close the digital divide in your community by creating a mobile tech makerspace that goes into the underserved neighborhoods of your community, like the mobile tech lab introduced by La Joya ISD in south Texas. In Florida, Estella Pyfrom is partnering with businesses to make her “Brilliant Bus” makerspace scalable; it’s a project the retired teacher hopes to take nationwide.
Makerspaces include more than computing technology. Because they reflect the needs and interests of the community, a makerspace could consist of woodworking tools, looms, art supplies, and photography equipment, as well as computers and 3-D printers.
The only thing limiting you from creating a successful and sustainable makerspace is your imagination. The students who are most anxious to collaborate on technology-based projects are depending on you.
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