Open Makerspace: Take Two

shrinky dinks (10)

Since our library makerspace has been available, I’ve tried as much as possible to have it open for students to use for their own tinkering and making as well as for classes to use in collaboration with me in the library.  This has not been an easy process, but I’ve tried several things and learned a lot.

A couple of months ago, Gretchen Thomas from UGA helped me get an open makerspace time started each day.  It was from 11-12:15 and an independent study student from UGA helped me facilitate students.  The problem with this time was the unpredictable nature.  We didn’t have students sign up ahead of time, so some days there would be an overwhelming number and some days there was just a few.  Also, all the students wanted to do different things which was very hard to manage.  During one of the weeks, we went through $75 worth of duct tape and students weren’t really making anything that they were happy enough to take with them.

shrinky dinks (8)

I’m not one to give up, so Gretchen and I did some talking over email and decided to try something new.  We would pull back the makerspace to Monday-Thursday.  Rather than have every day be a free for all, we decided to create a signup sheet.  We also decided that each day would have a focus so that the UGA helpers could begin to develop some expertise in specific areas and students could be more productive by focusing on one or two resources.  Again, this was all an experiment to see how it played out.

shrinky dinks (1) shrinky dinks (2)

So far, it has been working really well.  On Friday of each week, students sign up for the upcoming week.  They can only sign up for one day at the moment because we have only allowed 7-10 people per 30-minute time slot.  This number may increase as we see how manageable larger numbers of students might be.

Our schedule consists of:

  • Monday 3D design and Sphero
  • Tuesday littleBits and Sphero
  • Wednesday 3D design and Sphero
  • Thursday crafts and Sphero
  • There are also some independent projects woven in such as MaKey MaKey and Lego Robotics

We decided to put Sphero on the schedule daily because of the student demand and the fact that we  now have 13 Spheros.  It is easy to setup and cleanup quickly, and students can do it independently while the other pairings such as 3D design take a little more support.

shrinky dinks (9) shrinky dinks (6)

On Thursdays, Gretchen’s Maker Dawgs class sends a few students with a planned craft.  Duct tape was a huge hit, but as I’ve said, we found that students were using lots of duct tape without really getting anywhere.  We decided we would try different kinds of crafts with more of a focus on producing something to take away.  This focus might help students see the kinds of things they might create, which we hope leads to new ideas from students.  One week students created Origami.  This past week, the focus was Shrinky Dinks.  Many students had never experience Shrinky Dinks.  The Maker Dawgs brought in a Shrinky Dink maker, which basically looks like an Easy Bake Oven.

shrinky dinks (7)

Also, Gretchen made Shrinky Dink name tags for all of us.

The Maker Dawgs paired the Shrinky Dinks with friendship bracelet making, so some students combined Shrinky Dinks onto their frindship bracelet.  It was a very popular and productive makerspace time.

shrinky dinks (4) shrinky dinks (9)

Our newest problem is how to print all of the 3D creations that students are making.  That’s the next thing on my list to figure out.  Students want to print right away, and it’s hard for them to understand that designing can take a few minutes but printing can take a few hours.

shrinky dinks (5) shrinky dinks (3)

We take each challenge as it comes.  We expect the miraculous, and we don’t give up.

9 thoughts on “Open Makerspace: Take Two

  1. janelofton says:

    What a wonderful example of being willing to take risks and continually modify to make things work! I bet your students will learn as much from that iterative process as from the maker space itself. Your students are so lucky to have you, Andy!

  2. janelofton says:

    What a wonderful example of being willing to take risks and continually modify as needed to make something work. I bet your students will learn as much from that iterative process as they do from the maker space itself. They are so lucky to have you, Andy!

    • plemmonsa says:

      Jane…thank you so much. Observing and making changes is so critical. It’s easy to give up, but very important to keep trying.

  3. oklemiller says:

    I love Shrinky dinks what a great edition to your makerspace. I’m so glad you are working all the kinks out so when we start our makerspace next year it will be smooth sailing… right?!

    • plemmonsa says:

      I wish. You know how these things go…one challenge leads to another. Can’t wait to see what happens in your space too!

  4. Good morning, Andy. Looks like you guys are doing great with the space!. What time are the kids using to come to the maker space? Is it recess? Just curious what is being replaced. Thanks!

    • plemmonsa says:

      We are having a great time. For the most part, students sign up during their recess time, which is one of the reasons we limit their signup to one or two times per week. We want them to still get outside and enjoy recess. This time allows us to see ways to incorporate makerspace into the curriculum as well.

  5. Megan Ernst says:

    Hi! I work for the College of Education, and am writing an article for our newsletter on Gretchen’s (and her students’) collaboration with Barrow in the maker space! I would love to talk to you to get your perspective, as well as maybe use one of your photos above for the Newsletter? My email is Thanks so much for all you do!!

  6. Tonya Swisshelm says:

    We are adding to new furniture to our Media Center and I read that you didn’t take care of that it was part of a large order but I was wondering, and I know you are extremely busy, but is there anyway you could pass along the person’s contact who did the ordering b/c I love so much of the furniture you ordered but the VS website is very difficult to follow? I appreciate it. My email is

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