What is a Makerspace and Why Do They Still Matter Today?
- May 13, 2020
Many educators are looking for ways to bring more hands-on experiences to their students to improve STEM skills, critical thinking, and creativity. Often, this goal can be achieved by designing a space in schools where students can explore their creativity through engaging activities. For most schools, the best way to create one of these enriching learning areas is by building a makerspace.
A makerspace is a collaborative, shared workspace where students can get hands-on experience creating anything they can imagine with the tools and materials available to them. Some makerspaces feature technology like 3D printers, circuit boards, or robotics, but all a functional makerspace really needs is simple materials––like cardboard boxes, craft supplies, or legos––and the creativity of your students.
One of the best parts about implementing a custom makerspace in your school is that you can cater it specifically to your students’ needs, age range, and interests. A makerspace is a place where every student can hone in on their own unique strengths and interests to practice valuable future-ready workforce skills.
Makerspaces have been an educational trend for years now, but they continue to stay relevant because of their ability to adapt to changing curriculum and academic needs. No matter what students are learning in the classroom, makerspaces are a place where they can be creative, direct their own learning, and make productive mistakes. The biggest benefit of a makerspace comes from what is referred to as ‘unstructured learning.
Unstructured learning occurs when students are given the reigns to their own learning experience, promoting creativity, innovation, and discovery. Students engage deeply in the activity they design and self-direct and practice their trial and error skills throughout the execution of their learning experience. This type of learning is open-ended, and the end result is unique for every student.
Ultimately, unstructured learning leads to the pursuit and strengthening of important skill sets, including critical thinking, creative problem solving, self-motivation, and even SEL skills, such as productive struggle and managing failure.
Creating a makerspace in your school or classroom can be a great way to enrich your students’ learning in an engaging and exciting way. Whether you’re looking to design a high-tech makerspace for your whole school to utilize or an analog makerspace in the corner of your classroom, the right furniture is key to creating a functional and efficient space for learning.
Choosing the right surfaces and modular pieces can make or break the functionality of your makerspace. The wrong surfaces can be susceptible to scratches and dents or can make it difficult to clean up spills. Likewise, if there’s not enough room for students to navigate around tables or spread out their work across a large surface, that may limit the projects they can accomplish. MiEN has the perfect solutions––from large workspaces with built-in storage to easy-to-rearrange tables and desks––to bring your creative makerspace goals to life.
Today’s makerspace projects far surpass the shoebox dioramas of the last generation. However, it is the experience, rather than the product, that truly moves learning forward. The process of creating, setting goals, working with peers, and problem-solving until success is achieved engages today’s students in a way that few traditional classroom experiences allow. For educators, creating and promoting these spaces ensures that their learners are truly prepared to explore, ask questions, collaborate with others, and ultimately solve the challenges they will meet when they leave these schools.
Download our makerspace brochure for more inspiration.