For about 4 weeks, a group of 2nd-5th graders have been meeting with me on Fridays from 8:15-9:15AM. This time is called enrichment clusters at our school which basically means that kids select a group based on their interest and spend a period of time learning and creating around that topic. Our cluster is called Makerspace Maniacs. Our first sessions have been about exploring the world of making.
So far we have:
- Watched Caine’s Arcade and explored the idea of making interactive creations with cardboard.
- Watched Sylvia Super Awesome Maker Show and explored how we can take our creations and create instructional videos about them.
- Watched Landfill Harmonic and explored how makers take other people’s trash or unwanted items and turn them into functional creations.
- Watched how a 3D printer works and imagined what we would create on it.
- Tinkered with Lego robotics and programming.
- Explored making things out of duct tape.
Now, students are beginning to think about what they are interested in spending more time with. Right now, we have a lot of interest in robotics. Today, one student spent time exploring the directions to build a mindstorm NXT robot and began the building process. Another group of students looked at the Lego WeDo kit and followed instructions to build an alligator. Other students spent time, exploring how the various lego pieces fit together. Since their interests are so drawn to robotics, Christa Deissler from UGA will be helping me coordinate a guest speaker to talk to students and demonstrate programming of robots.
Seeing something tangible really inspires the students. Today a student figured out how to use the WeDo software to make the alligator open and close its mouth. When students saw this happen, they immediately wanted their creations to do something too. Once we get past the exploration stage, I think students are going to want to get into the workings of the programming software and figure things out.
In other news, our Donors Choose project to get a 3D printer is fully funded! This will give these students access to even more tools for making. Two other classes already have ideas for how the printer might be used in their own projects. Once it’s here, I’m sure that there will be lots of exploring, learning, and sharing between classes to figure out how this tool can support the learning in classrooms.