A Makerspace is an opportunity to allow kids to be creative, experiment, and learn and apply Growth Mindset thinking when trying to solve real-world problems or STEAM design challenges. It is important to expose kids in Elementary and Middle School to design challenges or projects that require building to provide hands-on experiences to solving problems. Read about my ideas on how to encourage a Maker Mindset in your classroom, library, or home. #backtoschool #makerspace #steamchallenges
“A makerspace is a space for making. It provides hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build, and invent as they engage in science, engineering, and more. It’s a place where students can enter with an idea and leave with a complete project. Like a miniature boat. Or a musical instrument. Or paper LED circuits. The options truly are endless.” (TeachersPayTeachers)
What is a Maker Mindset?
A Maker Mindset is about allowing yourself to be creative, experiment, and to keep an open-ended mindset when thinking about a solution to a problem. Problems viewed through a creative lens or through the creative process can be solved in many ways, each time evolving through testing, trial, and feedback. Through a creative lens, there is no one answer or way to solve a problem. There is a target and the path to get there is through using all subjects or areas of study combined (whether it is when creating an art piece or designing a prototype or project).
Why is it important for kids to develop a Maker Mindset?
Having a Maker Mindset allows students to learn: how to be creative, how to let their intuition guide them, and how to solve a problem in an open-ended way (there is no one solution to a problem). With a Maker Mindset, students can embrace the creative process to allow themselves to learn how to approach a problem from a variety of perspectives and even with a variety or combination of mediums, materials, and tools. Through flexing this muscle, they can see how using their knowledge from a variety of subject areas such as art, design, engineering, math, science, and language arts can come together to solve real-world problems, design challenges, or used to create art and communicate through a visual medium. Through using their Maker Mindset, students can practice flexing this muscle now and learn that creation is a result of being creative, using your imagination, experimenting, failing, and making mistakes; Maker Mindset is closely related to Growth Mindset. Through making mistakes, people who make (such as designers, engineers, and artists) learn about real-world mediums and materials and the subject areas these mediums and materials are connected to. Using Growth Mindset thinking, they are able to learn that mistakes and “failing” actually help them learn. Makers then know what is possible and what still needs to be explored. Through trial and error, they continue to learn and embrace a “life-long learning” attitude towards creation and making. This Maker Mindset can ultimately be used in any career path a student may choose. The ability to problem solve will strengthen and flourish through this new creative lens.
Encourage kids to Embrace Making Mistakes!
As a teacher, it is important to embrace making mistakes. As Ms. Frizzle often says: “Take Chances! Make Mistakes! Get Messy!”. There is so much truth to the Magic School Bus! It was teaching Growth Mindset to the kids of the 90s all along. I often repeat this quote and use it as my hook before I teach my students about Growth Mindset. Growth Mindset is important to embrace in any classroom, no matter the subject, if you want your students to embrace trying their best, to do hard work even if it is challenging for them, and for them to learn that mistakes are okay because they help you learn. As a teacher, I strongly believe in modeling expectations or doing demonstrations for my students. Often, I will tell students true stories about myself of when I have learned from mistakes both as a kid and as an adult. As well, any time that I make a mistake, I make a point of pointing it out. I explain that I won’t give up and I model noting my mistake and how I might fix it; I make a point to show them that teachers, just like students, make mistakes and that we too are life long learners. Mistakes help us learn and they are to be celebrated as an opportunity for experimentation and discovery!
How to bring a “Making Concept” into your school day, even when you don’t have a Makerspace
One thing you can do to bring a “making concept” into your school day without relying on a physical Makerspace is by creating “pop up” design challenges. I allow students to use recyclable materials to create their projects for both design and for art. First, this teaches sustainability, and second, it allows students to be creative by seeing the material differently in order to reuse it for their specific purpose. Kids have more imagination than us and generally don’t need help figuring out how to re-purpose materials. I bring in my recycling from the week and have students bring in some stuff too and we create with very little and make big things. This can be done in art to supplement art mediums and materials, in design in STEAM challenges, or used when creating projects for any Project-Based Learning assignment. Projects can be created individually or collaboratively. As well, students can choose to keep them, or break them back down and recycle all the cardboard/plastic/etc again to again reinforce a sustainable practice. So much to be learned!
A Makerspace is an opportunity to allow kids to be creative, experiment, and learn and apply Growth Mindset thinking when trying to solve real-world problems or STEAM design challenges. It is important to encourage kids to develop a maker mindset to allow them to be creative, to experiment, to build confidence, and to learn that mistakes help them learn! I believe in you and please feel free to post any questions you may have in the comments section of this post.
Love from, Kathleen (Ms Artastic)