Makerspaces are becoming more and more popular within schools, providing hands-on experience to students of all disciplines and promoting creative thinking and problem solving. In order for you to maximize the potential of your desired makerspace, it is beneficial to first consider these vital questions while designing the space.
What is its purpose?
Before creating your makerspace, you should first ask yourself what its purpose is. What subjects will be explored by the space? Is it geared towards science, programming, engineering, or all three? What projects are likely to be completed using the space, and what are the lessons students are likely to learn? You want your makerspace to have a clear focus on its purpose so that you can build it from the ground up centered entirely around its core function.
Who will be using the makerspace?
Audience is an important factor to consider when designing your makerspace. What is the age range of the students that will be utilizing the space? Are they young students just learning the basics of the design process and problem solving, or are they more experienced, learning STEM skills that will slingshot them into their careers? You also have to consider what discipline these students are pursuing, and design your makerspace accordingly.
Which tools should be included?
Now that you know the why and who of your makerspace, it’s time to decide what kind of equipment you should include. Depending on your answers to the first two questions, you should include tools that align with both the purpose and audience of your makerspace. If your students are younger, simple resources like cardboard, woodworking, and scissors will be perfectly sufficient. However, if you are designing a more advanced space for older students, it may be necessary to include advanced machines such as 3D printers or CNC machines. Of course, this kind of technology is expensive, so be sure to read our article about Keeping Your Classroom Makerspace On-Budget. Also, with any space where tools are in use, safety should be a top concern. Read about Applying Lab Safety to a Classroom Makerspace.
Where should it be located?
One of the final questions you should consider is where your makerspace will be located within the school. Many spaces are simply located in the classroom, but a more advanced space—such as one with hi-tech robotics and machines—or one that may leave a mess should be located outside of the classroom. If this is the case, be sure that the space is easily accessible to all students, is near enough to plumbing and electricity to not cause issues, and allows for easy delivery of tools and resources.
Designing the details of a makerspace may be daunting, but as long as you tackle the process step by step and ponder the questions above before you start, you’ll have no trouble creating a makerspace where your students can have a blast while learning necessary and valuable skills.
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