Getting students to think outside the box, solve problems through practical means and find creative ways to make use of the tools available to them is the focus of a “Makerspace” program being utilized at the Greenfield Middle School.
Various school officials and teachers described the program Thursday to Greenfield Rotarians during their meeting at Catch 22 Sports Pub, with students on hand to demonstrate their innovative problem-solving approach to learning.
According to a description on the makerspaceforeducation.com website, the Makerspace movement is based on a need to return to constructivism and constructionism practices.
“The primary goal of both constructivism and constructionism is to have learners create their own knowledge by creating and interacting with physical objects. It has clear connections to media literacy as well as to self-directed learning. Innovative researchers, and those who wish to see schools develop 21st century learners with the skills to work in today’s multidimensional career settings, know constructivism and constructionism are necessary methods,” according to the program description.
The educational Makerspace program is designed to be “less of a classroom and more of a motivational speech without words.”
Middle school principal Wendy Callewaert, 6th grade reading/language arts teacher Alanna Eikenberry, technology/study skills instructor Amy Hill and Makerspace coordinator Tonia McLanahan took turns describing the program, with Eikenberry noting that the class is so enjoyable that most students would rather be there than in other classes.
McLanahan said the program is designed to “get kids to think outside the box, not necessarily what they would answer on a test.” She compared the challenges presented to students as similar to what the Apollo 13 astronauts had to figure out to repair and rescue their malfunctioning spacecraft using the limited supplies that were available, as famously portrayed in the Tom Hanks movie based on the true story.
McLanahan described the trial and error process she and students have gone through in developing class activities, including safety guidelines.
The students on hand Thursday enthusiastically demonstrated various Makerspace projects on tables set up for their materials, answering questions from Rotarians who lined up to talk with the students and observe their handiwork.
School officials said they are always in need of supplies for the class, ranging from scrap materials like large cardboard pieces and foam board to Legos to plastic bottle caps and old electronics, along with many other items.
Callewaert also invited community members to volunteer if they have a special hobby or expertise to share with students. Those interested can call 937-981-2197.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at [email protected]