The fall semester is coming to a close at UGA, which means our open makerspace times on Tuesdays and Thursdays is about to take a small break until January. To close out the semester, the entire Maker Dawgs class returned to Barrow to host a makerspace recess.
Setting this time up take a little more work than having makerspace in the library, but each time we take our makerspace beyond the library, I’m reminded about how it makes the opportunity visible to students.
Gretchen Thomas arrived early and started setting up tables under our pavilion on the playground. Each table featured something we’ve done in makerspace across the semester.
- Duct tape bows and bow ties
- Kindness pins and necklaces
- Popsicle kazoos
- Strawbee architecture
Since we were outside, we could also have stations that are more difficult to do inside like sidewalk chalk art. As UGA students arrived, they each took a station to facilitate any students who wanted to try that activity. When students arrived at recess, they immediately gravitated toward the makerspace to see what was going on. One of the most common things I heard was: “I didn’t sign up”. It was so fun to say that the makerspace was open to all. Since we had numerous helpers and could spread out, it didn’t matter how many students wanted to participate or how loud they were. Because of this, we saw students who had never been to makerspace suddenly get to experience what we do.
I know that I can’t do the scale of makerspace that we did today by myself, but I do want to think about how I can offer small opportunities to tinker with our makerspace tools in spaces where students are already gathered. The tricky piece comes with managing the library while I’m in another space. Without a helper, I have to think about the best times I can do this while I have a volunteer or our computer technician in the library.
As typically happens in makerspace, we saw big groups of students who might not play together on the playground suddenly crowded around the same table sharing materials, collaborating, chatting, and sharing their creations. There’s something magical about the atmosphere of a makerspace and the community it builds among makers.
I need to keep this thought at the front of my mind as I move into the 2nd half of the year. How can I maintain the makerspace opportunities we have as well as expand the opportunities to students who haven’t had a chance to participate?
As always, thank you to Gretchen Thomas, her Maker Dawgs students, and UGA for exploring this complex topic with me each semester. We’re doing great work together.