makerspaces my journey

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Makerspaces What is a Makerspace? A fundamental meaning is presented by Diana Rendina. She states that : A makerspace can be anything from a repurposed bookcart filled with arts and crafts supplies to a table in a corner set out with LEGOs to a full blown fab lab with 3D printers, laser cutters, and handtools. No two school makerspaces are exactly alike, nor should they be. Makerspaces are as unique as the school cultures they represent. There is no such thing as one form of making being more valid or better than the other. Makers are artists, crafters, knitters, seamstresses, builders, programmers, engineers, hackers, painters, woodworkers, tinkerers, inventors, bakers, graphic designers and more. It is clear that there are compelling links to the Australian Curriculum: Technologies in terms of authentic exploration, critical and creative thinking and project management. The theory behind makerspaces is presented at CSU Thinkspace . They draw on the theory of Seymour Papert and constructionism and link this with physical computing. They draw on Sir Ken Robinson’s ideas about creativity and innovation, and powerful collaborative

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Makerspaces What is a Makerspace?A fundamental meaning is presented by Diana Rendina. She states that:A makerspace can be anything from a repurposed bookcart filled with arts and crafts supplies to a table in a corner set out with LEGOs to a full blown fab lab with 3D printers, laser cutters, and handtools. No two school makerspaces are exactly alike, nor should they be. Makerspaces are as unique as the school cultures they represent. There is no such thing as one form of making being more valid or better than the other. Makers are artists, crafters, knitters, seamstresses, builders, programmers, engineers, hackers, painters, woodworkers, tinkerers, inventors, bakers, graphic designers and more.It is clear that there are compelling links to the Australian Curriculum: Technologies in terms of authentic exploration, critical and creative thinking and project management.

The theory behind makerspaces is presented at CSU Thinkspace. They draw on the theory of Seymour Papert and constructionism and link this with physical computing. They draw on Sir Ken Robinsons ideas about creativity and innovation, and powerful collaborative learning. They identify the importance of individuals and teams reaching their potential. There is a clear link to constructivism and critical and higher order thinking. CSU Thinkspace cites Eric Sheninger:The Makerspace in the library is an oasis for student self-directed learning. It serves as a rejuvenation center for inspiring of love for both formal and informal learning. In my opinion, a space like this should be a priority for all schools in the twenty-first century; and you do not have to break the bank to create one.Jackie Gerstein, in her blog User Generated Education identifies the importance of reflection for learning. She provides a flow chart to prompt reflection (shown below).

It is clearly linked to the technology design cycle. Whilst the physical activity of making is central to the concept, underpinning this is the thinking process that is a part of design and computational thinking. It is easy to lose sight of this but if we do not focus on the thinking, we lose significant parts of the learning. The web is full of makerspaces resources, for instance:

Thinking: My own journey as a lesson in design of a makerspaceIt appears that makerspaces can be anything, but can best be presented as a blend of high tech and low tech. There is a lot of flexibility and context is important. Without both high tech and low tech, I believe we cannot work towards meeting Australian Curriculum Technologies learning outcomes. The Aims of this curriculum state:The Australian Curriculum: Technologies aims to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to ensure that, individually and collaboratively, students: investigate, design, plan, manage, create and evaluate solutions are creative, innovative and enterprising when using traditional, contemporary and emerging technologies, and understand how technologies have developed over time make informed and ethical decisions about the role, impact and use of technologies in the economy, environment and society for a sustainable future engage confidently with and responsibly select and manipulate appropriate technologies materials, data, systems, components, tools and equipment when designing and creating solutions critique, analyse and evaluate problems, needs or opportunities to identify and create solutions.In addition to the overarching aims for the Australian Curriculum: Technologies, Design and Technologies more specifically aims to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to ensure that, individually and collaboratively, students: develop confidence as critical users of technologies and designers and producers of designed solutions investigate, generate and critique innovative and ethical designed solutions for sustainable futures use design and systems thinking to generate design ideas and communicate these to a range of audiences produce designed solutions suitable for a range of technologies contexts by selecting and manipulating a range of materials, systems, components, tools and equipment creatively, competently and safely; and managing processes evaluate processes and designed solutions and transfer knowledge and skills to new situations understand the roles and responsibilities of people in design and technologies occupations and how they contribute to society.In addition to the overarching aims for the Australian Curriculum: Technologies, Digital Technologies more specifically aims to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to ensure that, individually and collaboratively, students:

design, create, manage and evaluate sustainable and innovative digital solutions to meet and redefine current and future needs use computational thinking and the key concepts of abstraction; data collection, representation and interpretation; specification, algorithms and implementation to create digital solutions confidently use digital systems to efficiently and effectively automate the transformation of data into information and to creatively communicate ideas in a range of settings apply protocols and legal practices that support safe, ethical and respectful communications and collaboration with known and unknown audiences apply systems thinking to monitor, analyse, predict and shape the interactions within and between information systems and the impact of these systems on individuals, societies, economies and environments.How was I going to manage the emphasized design and making aspects of this curriculum? It became clear that working with pre-service teachers would involve modelling how this could be enacted in the classroom. A makerspace is an ideal vehicle.Noelene Callaghan identified ways to start a makerspace in schools. Parts of her article are copied below:(from learning environments have been around for a while, however, their popularity has now exploded and teachers and schools are scrambling to observe the mastery works of educators such as MIE Expert Matthew Richards from St Columba Anglican School and ICTENSW educator of the year Amanda Hogan from Tara Anglican School to begin working on their own. For those who are new to the area of technology, makerspaces serve as gathering points where communities of new and experienced makers connect to work on real and personally meaningful projects, informed by helpful mentors and expertise, using new technologies and traditional tools. Makerspaces are increasing in education as they contribute to 21st Century learning, collaborative learning experiences and much more. Moreover, it can be used to build connection between the school community and its learners. Creating a makerspace learning environment need not be difficult nor expensive. It is important to understand the entire capacity of what a makerspace can bring to support the teaching and learning that already exists in your school without adding an additional burden on teachers or students. That is, its integration should be seamless. Its Purpose Initially a teacher should spend some time researching various setups of makerspace environments to ascertain which components they offer are suitable for their school. As we all know, schools differ, as do our schools strategic plan, therefore, our makerspace should support our schools overall goals and plans. Its Location Once you establish the purpose of your makerspace, it is time to determine the location of your new learning environment. Many opt to use a room or a space within the school library as this is often the hub of the school. It is important to select a space that is central to all students and easily accessible. This will encourage teachers and students to utilise the space regularly. The space needs to be well lit and ventilated and needs to be big enough that work areas can be separated enough to be used safely. Keep pathways to tools, exits, and safety equipment clear. Its Contents It is very important that you dont try to include everything that others are claiming to do. Start small. Begin by purchasing a few things online, perhaps using eBay, and slowly build your kit. This will help you work out what resources work and what dont, and as you will be working with mostly consumable tools, you wont be in a burdening financial position. Purchasing 5mm LED lights from eBay can cost approximately $2 for 100 units. This coupled with a roll of conductive tape (at $1) and 100 units Button Cell Batteries (at $13) allows you to create numerous types of projects that could support many topics learned in any KLA. You could choose to have a few simple tools for some kinds of making, keeping the capacity at a basic level there while building out another area of making to a level that might be considered intermediate or advanced. We define basic as relatively low-cost while still useful and easy to use, while intermediate tools and materials add more capability to the makerspace, allowing makers to create more ambitious projects and work with more materials with greater precision. For more inspiration about what to include in your makerspace environment, create a Pinterest account to follow the amazing works of others. Communicating with Staff As it is important to start slowly, begin the makerspace environment with a small group of students who specialise in one particular area. This could be your gaming team, such as Minecraft, or your TAS team that are creating a major work using a 3D printer. Once the team are confident in using the space without teacher intervention, you may begin introducing staff slowly. For example, by notifying HSIE teachers that the space is available for students to create dioramas (students could select to use various materials) as part of a topic. Set Rules Like any classroom, rules need to be established and followed by all. These rules include OH&S as well as those that stipulate the roles of the teacher and students. Such rules will not only allow everyone to work in a safe space but will also enable the resources to be stretched further, giving more students access to the available resources. Have a Plan Once your makerspace is up and running, its time to set up a short and long term plan. By evaluating the activities after a term or so, you will be able to determine what works for your school, and so can then plan to commence mentoring programs, specialised collaborative groups, after school clubs and more. It could also create opportunities for other teachers to utilise the space during their lesson time and help them develop new skills that can be shared with other teachers. There are endless possibilities of makerspace learning environments and no two environments are the same making them unique and fundamental features of 21st Century schools.

My journeyThe first principle I identified was the need for a mobile makerspace.Step 1 I started with recycled plastic bottle jewellery (Design) and Scratch (Digital). This is a low-tech option, and a high-tech option. A primary consideration was cost with no local funding. After some hours searching, I put together a short tutorial for plastic bottle jewellery. Materials included cheap findings from a local discount shop, plastic bottles, tea-light candles, matches, forceps (to hold hot plastic) and needles. Playing with the process myself was important. There were many unanticipated issues for instance the candle melting to the degree that the container was filled with hot wax. The need for a board to work on, because of the mess of spilt wax. I cannot recommend strongly enough the need to complete at least the basics of each challenge yourself. I also uncovered additional problems when I worked with others the discussion was invaluable. I approached the Scratch activities using an exercise (making a shark-fish game). I selected the activity so that it incorporated as many coding activities as possible so that my students could apply what they had learned. I tussled with the need to support understanding through structured learning, and the importance of invention and creation of new and unique items by my students. I also made the decision that everyone should not necessarily be involved in the same activity. The message about Makerspaces is that they are driven by student choice and interest. If students are following the design cycle, working in a particular curriculum context, and meeting the outcomes of the curriculum, the choice of activity is not important. However, I decided that I would create a spreadsheet to map each of the explorations to the curriculum so that student outcomes could be mapped. This is an approach that could be replicated in the classroom.This is the purpose of the learning process in our Technologies course, EDCU12039 that leads to Assessment 1. When students work with their own design challenge, they should consider the following points: It is critically important that you, I and our students take detailed and ongoing notes as we proceed in our adventures. There are obvious reasons. Firstly without articulating our thinking, we fail to maximise its quality. Explaining how, why, when, where, with what, we do certain things also provides for others a process that can be replicated, and for us as well, it can be refined. The way that notes are taken is important. We and our students learn from others, and it soon emerges what the best way is to document planning and a creation process. The tutorials I have learned from include images and text, and videos. I have not learned from text alone. The curriculum emphasizes the communication of ideas, processes, outcomes and products. As part of a creative community, our learners should learn the importance of disseminating their ideas. How will they do this? You can see the clear links with the digital technologies curriculum even if students are working in the area of low tech design technologies.

Step 2It was time to extend my collection of activities. I am pleased I started small. So I chose one new low tech and one new high tech activity. The low-tech I selected is weaving using weaving looms and a variety of recycled and natural materials. The high-tech I selected was Arduino. Now this was problematic.There is very little structured guidance on the web and it was so difficult to find a starting point. What did I want? There are so many products. You can never get on top of it. For instance, based on my reading, I chose to go with the Arduino UNO but just recently I learned that Ed Qld had partnered with Intel to use the Galileo. Oh well, should be transferrable knowledge once I get the hang of it. Beyond this, I was initially unaware of low cost, more simple alternatives such as Trinket and Picoboards.Where to order? I have found Little Bird Electronics, who supply kits that are otherwise available overseas with quite heavy delivery costs. This is handy given that most of the materials you will find will be either Adafruit, or Sparkfun materials, (these are the two major suppliers in the USA).But I ordered the lower cost Starter Pack initially, based purely on the connotations of the name ie it sounded like Arduino for beginners. Potential mistake. It has a mini-breadboard. The instructions change to a regular breadboard in Tutorial 3, and I did not have the insight yet into breadboards to accommodate the difference. Beyond this, the download of the software and setting up of the device are problematic. They are not clearly signposted and it took fully days of research to find out how to start!!! I did not even know this was an Adafruit product and the Inventors kit was a Sparkfun kit until it was gently pointed out to me by the helpful people at Little Bird Electronics. Oh well, you live and learn! Finally, the kit was in bits. I only realised that it was not ready to learn when I looked at the diagrams and realised that mine did not look like theirs. A small link led me to instructions to assemble the prototype shield, and suddenly I was soldering teeny tiny connections with very poorly developed skills. Okay, so I soldered together the prototype shield, because the pack comes unassembled. I have learned a lot and am probably better off for the experience. But it was an unnecessary obstacle to a beginner.The Spark Fun Inventors Kit is much more seamless, and you can get straight into exploration without mucking around trying to find tutorials that work and assembling components.Both have tutorials. The Spark Fun Invention kit (SIK) tutorials are found in a downloadable pdf. Okay so in reality as long as I can introduce my students to the potential and basics, it is realistic to think that they could find solutions themselves. Right?Since making my purchases, I realize that there are other options. The Adafruits Trinket is one, the PicoBoard is another. Both cheaper if all of your students are working on the same activity. Sounds like another language doesnt it? But it does fall into place eventually. I experienced a couple of issues with the Arduino software installation and the board drivers but less difficult to troubleshoot. The biggest problem is the fragmentation of support and help on the web. Nobody wants to make your job easy!!So I now have two kits, one for the Adafruits Arduino Starter Pack, and one for the Sparkfun Inventors kit. I have tutorial materials for both. As soon as I am more knowledgeable, I will re-examine Trinkets and PicoBoards.I have played with the first few tutorials to ensure that they are easy to follow and OMG that sense of achievement when that stupid little LED blinks at me!!!So now I have recycled plastic jewellery, Scratch programming, Weaving and Arduino.This was starting to look like a very simple makerspace, but a makerspace nonetheless.Step 3One of the most exciting discoveries was paper circuits. I was feeling a little sad that I had spent about $250 on Arduino and $30 each on two weaving looms. I was reluctant, at that stage to spend any more. Paper circuits simply use button batteries, self-adhesive copper tape and LEDs to make circuits on paper. They can be enormously creative, or quite pedestrian. I am pedestrian but when I explored creativity I found a lot of scope. The best bit was finding 21st Century journaling. I have a visual art book that has all of my explorations. Annotated of course, with a record of what I did, obstacles I overcame, and instructions. So why do I love paper circuits? Materials are cheap. I bought 30m of copper tape for $2.50 on ebay. I bought 100 LEDs for about the same cost. I got ambitious and purchased light sensitive resistors, tiny little microphones. I got 100 CR2032 button batteries for $12. I got 10 1V-6V mini motors (not sure what I will do with then yet!!!) for $12. And my coup de grace was pulling apart some old micro silver wire string lights from last Christmas, generating some brilliant tiny LEDs. Mind you it was quite a thing to work out which of the four wires to cut!!! But that is another story. And removing the plastic coating on the wires led to tiny wire splinters until I learned to work smart!I started with the Xmas lights. I then found out about surface mount LEDs. Smart me, I ordered a set and when they arrived found out that they were microscopic. Almost literally. Ahhh there are different sizes. Why didnt someone tell me? I had ordered the 0603. I should have ordered the 1206 size. As I keep repeating, this is live and learn. An early lesson I do not understand fully, but I have since read that this is the case is that not all colours work together. I thought it was a problem with the LED and then found that it was putting together in one circuit so I started playing with switches. Now, using the same LEDs and batteries, I discovered Squishy circuits circuits made out of playdough. Also engaging, easy for younger children, and cheap. Getting more adventurous, I decided to try an AT Tiny 85 microcontroller on my paper circuits with a small plug-in module called an AVR programmer that works with Arduino software. Again, perhaps because I run Windows 10, instructions were not accurate and I spent hours trouble shooting another lesson!This is super-fun. Uploading and planning with programming to make a series of lights do different things. But frustrating and probably for us and older children! And yet, who says? It is possible that a bright and agile 10 year old will do better than me, really. Step 4I saw this Lego wall on the internet. A set of base plates put together, vertically, to make a mega-mural wall. I had to have one. So I bought at great cost to the management (my family budget) sets of second hand Lego on Ebay. I bought base plates and stuck them to a huge sheet of mega-thick cardboard packaging material. Then I learned in my exploration that Lego actually used to have Mosaic packs. And I learned that there are legoizing programs online. And I learned that there is a binary code for each Lego colour. And the curriculum links emerged, using Paint to pixelate images and explain to students how image are coloured with binary colours. Get them to design and create their mural on the board as a Lego graffiti board. Problem was, I needed single (1x1) blocks not big ones so had to go out and purchase more. I did not know you could order like that!!So now I actually have two Lego activities the mural board, and a general Lego table. Then, as things go, I visited a school and discovered the Lego Story Starter pack and software. On my wish list, but I am running out of money. I keep thinking anyway of people, you, as teachers in remote areas, and how to set up a Makerspace on a limited budget. I believe you are likely to get donations of Lego without a problem from families of older children. Step 5Cardboard, op-shop fabric, hot glue guns and cut-outs to make really cute little dressing table boxes. Cost nothing. I like that! And really creative, using recycled materials to make functional and attractive objects. Step 6Keeping with the free. We have iPads on campus. Why not use them for coding/programming.I liked Hopscotch in particular. It works much the same as Scratch but is a little simpler. And there are masses of materials online.I will not itemise the apps I explored, there are mountains of them. But I also downloaded Tickle. Mega breakthrough wait, and I will explain later why And Blockly is interesting because it has a pack of activities that grow in complexity, and can be downloaded as a Zip file. But only works online, or on computer if downloaded. I also downloaded the free Turtle Art which is amazing. Simple coding blocks are used to create magnificent digital art works. Materials are available to get your students started. Oh, and Contraption Maker. Find it online, you are allowed to download it for free for your students. They are amazingly generous. So I have free apps, free resources, iPads (you can get your students to bring their own) and great coding resource.Step 7Let me recap in my head, and look at my growing pile of stuff. I have low tech and high tech, and more than enough to set up a makerspace. But I do not have my students working with tools, and that is a key feature in the Australian Curriculum. So I went out and purchased a huge sheet of light craft board, a couple of small saws, a hand-operated drill, with drill bits, a table top vice. Blackboard paint and sandpaper. Aha, now we are working with tools. So I am planning little mini-blackboards for bedroom doors for messages Step 8I have realised there is a huge gap. We have no robotics. Back to the bank, no bones in the soup again this week!! I have seen extension students playing with Lego NXT Robotics, but this is quite complex, with a longitudinal time commitment (therefore not readily suitable for my Makerspace purposes) and expensive. For a makerspace that is limited, we also need some cheaper options. So this is what I got:Lego WeDo for primary students this is amazing, and a great way to work with physical programming with robotic actions. And it works with Scratch. Ozebot so cute, little programmable robot for younger students, but had adults intrigued too. Sphero 2.0 there is a new version now for schools. There are a number of software apps. This is a great way to program an interesting and inexpensive robot. And it is programmable with Tickle see the connection growing?And then I found out about Edison. I felt compelled to get two of them not sure why, but was pleased when I did. They are only about $60. And are genuinely programmable at a number of levels. And the bonus is that they work with Lego Technics. So I added on a Lego digger kit to make an amazing device. My plan is to buy a couple of different Lego Technics kits and leave my students to invent.I thought that was it!!!But then today I found a little drone called Parrot Rolling Spider programmable with Tickle see the Tickle connection? And added him to the kit. If I can get it away from my husband, that is. It has limited flight time about 8 minutes. But I find that is ideal. It compels pilots to work with the code, rather than trial and error, and I will set flight challenges that have to be completed within the normal battery life of the drone. Smart me!

Step 9 backwards again. I had to get a Raspberry pi, in fact two. And I have just added on a Sense hat. Look it up. It is a teeny computer that takes your students back to the origins of computing and teaches them a lot. But you can use Scratch with a Raspberry pi. And you can program Minecraft by getting into the backroom workings so that you learn how to code rather than just click and drag blocks. And the sense hat creates physical computing opportunities (it has a number of sensors built in).I keep telling myself this is it. I have a great makerspace now. You do not need the expensive and high tech options. But a small budget will set you up with a makerspace that can accommodate a whole class of students. All I need is a couple of computers with the software loaded, a space, a trolley (because mine has to be mobile) and we are off and running.Links to our Technologies course: EDCU12039So what about Assignment 1. Hey, this is what is amazing. We have 200 plus people in the course. Each person is investigating a design project, in essence a makerspace project. By the end of this course, my makerspace will accommodate hundreds of ideas because I plan to use your ideas too!!!Thank you in advance. I have a package of instructional materials that I have put together, I will send these out to you to help you get started. You may not be the person in your school to set up the makerspace, but there will be somebody, and together you will build the confidence to give it a go. I started with significant apprehension, and I feel, after weeks of working and thinking, that I am in a good place to move forward from. You can do it!