At our “Meet the Teacher” night back in August, several students raced into the library to tell me about project ideas that they dreamed up over the summer. As soon as I heard their enthusiasm, I knew that one of my library goals, “To empower student voice”, was going to be an important one for this school year. One student shared about his idea to design his own Skylanders and 3D print them. Another wanted to create a set of model trains on the 3D printer. Another wanted to explore the MaKey MaKey. and program things. I told them all that we would figure out how to make this happen this year, but I needed some time to get the library going.
As usual, the start of the school year has been busy getting projects, lessons, and technology off the ground, so I had not gotten back to these students. I just love when students feel comfortable to raise their voices. I received an email a few days ago from two students that went something like this:
Dear, MR Plemmons
We would like to come to the makerspace once a week during recess if possible. We would love to use the makey makey to possibly control Sphero. If this is possible please email back.
I knew I needed to make this happen fast because I had already waited too long to let these guys start tinkering, so I responded back:
When is your recess and what day are you thinking of? I want to make this happen for both of you.
And then they responded back with the day, time, and:
Thank you for giving us this opportunity.
The first day of tinkering was just awesome. Within a matter of minutes, Kearn had the MaKey MaKey connected to Play Doh and was controlling a train simulator on the computer. Ludwig controlled the horn and Kearn drove the train. Kearn wanted to make a video to show what he had done, so we pulled out an iPad and made an impromptu video which he wanted to add to his Youtube channel. He also started following my blog and even left a comment about how much he loves the makerspace. Both students were completely independent and were perfectly capable of dreaming, tinkering, and making on their own. I was available for support as needed, but they really just wanted a space to explore. As they continue, I want to connect them with some experts that might mentor their ideas and curiosities, but for now, they just need to tinker.
This is what I’m talking about when I say “empower student voice”. These two guys are full of energy and passion about making. I am sure that they will figure out so many things that I couldn’t even imagine myself during the course of this year. They willingly share their knowlege and expertise, and I’m sure that their tinnkering, failures, and successes will inspire and support many other student projects during the year. When I see two students get so excited about learning like this, I can’t help but think about what other opportunties students need to spark their own passions for learning. I hope that our makerspace is just one space that ignites students’ curiosities this year.