A goal I’ve been trying to achieve for awhile in our makerspace is to have ongoing individualized projects. In the fall of this year, the media specialists started brainstorming having a district maker faire to showcase projects from all of our schools. In the spring, Gretchen Thomas, had over 30 students in her UGA class that collaborates with our makerspace. Normally, 4 students from Gretchen’s class come to our makerspace on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but with 30 students, it would be hard for her students to make it to our school multiple times. We started pondering this new dilemma and realized that Gretchen’s dilemma aligned with my long-term goal.
Gretchen divided her class in half. Half of her students continued Tuesday/Thursday makerspace times, and the other half became maker faire mentors on either Tuesdays or Thursday. I gathered students who were interested in making something for maker faire and put them into a Tuesday or Thursday group. Gretchen did the same with her students.
At the first meeting, Gretchen’s students learned more about what students were wanting to make. I supported these conversations too, and we started gathering materials students needed for projects. Each Tuesday and Thursday since February, these maker faire students have worked on an individual project while regular makerspace continued to run simultaneously. It was loud and chaotic but productive. Our makerspace storage also became very unorganized and I realized that I have a lot of work to do in order to store multiple on-going projects.
During our very first school maker faire, we setup tables around the library to showcase projects. I created a schedule for teachers to signup to bring their class. Some times classes came and walked through to look. Later in the day, the maker students were at their tables to demonstrate their products and answer questions. Again, this was loud and chaotic, but it was organized and productive.
Many kids found ideas that they were excited about and wanted to try out. Many kids got to test some of the products that were made. Gretchen’s entire class also came during the day to listen to students talk about their projects, keep tables organized, and introduce students to Ozobots and Cubelets. As usual, miraculous moments happened throughout the day.
Here are a few:
Dominique developed her leadership skills as she ran the robotics table for most of the day. Two students who had made robots were unable to come, so she stepped up and demonstrated their robots for them and kept the table orderly and made sure people had a turn to try out driving a Finch robot.
Speaking of robots, one of the robots had a name: Bob Jello.
Throughout the day, his personality seemed to develop on its own as kids began to talk about Bob Jello rather than just talking about a robot. Before we knew it, the other robots had been deemed the “evil kitties” and a battle ensued between Bob Jello and the kitties. Students were huddled up cheering on the robots and it had me thinking about how much we could do with storytelling and robotics.
My daughter, Alora, made a butterfly sculpture with a 3Doodler pen. She taught group after group about how the pens worked and managed kids taking turns and making very small sculptures. It was fun to see her as a 1st grader teaching kids in much older grades.
Several students made projects with their dads, and it was fun to watch the students share about their work with others. Patrick’s dad came and presented alongside him to talk about catapult gliders. They had a tri-board, video, and several models. It was a popular table that many students were interested in exploring.
Linden had a freestyle Tic Tac Toe game he made with his dad, and we loved learning the story of how the game originated at a restaurant table using sugar and sweet n low packets.
Finally, Forrest made documentary with his dad about Zepplins. This is a topic that many kindergarten students might not take on, but Forrest was super knowledgeable and shared his expertise along with playing his video.
Josie had made a robot from carboard and duct tape, and she really wanted to make it move. She used littebits and fishing line to make its arms move up and down. Rather than just sit at the table the whole time talking, Josie worked! She continuously made improvements to her design so that the arms would move more and more. Students started giving her ideas of what she might do next, and she may even attempt that soon.
Our intern, Jen Berry, worked with four 1st graders to submit maker projects, and all four of them had projects that were of high interest to visitors. Many students wanted to make their own terrarium after seeing Zarema’s 2-liter bottle terrarium.
Students made art with Shanti’s scribble bot. Parachutes were launching and being dreamed up thanks to Eric and Kaden’s garbage bag parachutes.
Last minute entries rolled in like Aley’s handmade wooden guitar he is using for his music project.
It was so hard to capture every moment. It was so exhausting, and I’m already thinking about how I will organize it differently next year to involve more students and more classes touring the projects, while also calling on more volunteers to give me a bit more sanity.
Many of these projects will now be showcased at our district maker faire which will take place on Saturday April 1 from 2-4:30PM at Clarke Central High School. I highly encourage you to attend if you can. There will be over 100 makers featured from Prek-12th grade. It’s a great opportunity to see the amazing creativity we have in our district.
I’m so thankful for Gretchen and her students for supporting our students. It is a great collaboration that benefits many student voices. Thank you Gretchen for staying most of the day to help and to Jen Berry for jumping in the chaos and helping the day be a success.