Research: A new trend in education is the concept of the “makerspace.” Makerspaces are zones for creativity, where people can access tools and materials to tinker, experiment, and try out new ideas. It’s student-driven experiential learning in action. Roland Barth, of the Harvard Principals’ Center, notes that such hands-on learning develops risk-taking, purposefulness in learning, the ability to pose important questions, freedom, hard work, collective learning, leadership, and a sense of responsibility for one’s self and others (2001). These are important characteristics not only of a successful student, but of a successful adult more generally.
Practice: We received a generous grant from the Glendorn Foundation to set up our own makerspace this year at the high school, and it’s starting to take form! Several enrichment areas have already been added to the activity room (where students gather between classes), including a sewing station, textile/paper station, game corner, and musical instruments. A workshop is in the works and electronics are coming in the new year! Students are beginning to use the new items in their free time and our hope is to encourage socialization, student-driven projects, peer teaching, and multiple ways to express learning.