Today my group went over to Barrow for Makerspaces. We planned on doing Spheros and Green Screen, and I was very excited about this because I did Sphero programming at the beginning of the semester for our project. Unfortunately, the Spheros weren’t connecting to Bluetooth and wouldn’t even turn on, so we had to change it up. The kids were very excited to use them, so hopefully next time they will work a little better. We had to improvise some, and decided to just have them play Blokify on the iPads. This alternative was a great way to still use technology and engineering in the media center. The students loved to tell me about their building plans they had in mind and all of the creative ideas about them.
The next activity we had setup was green screen. I’ve been wanted to do this because I haven’t had any practice of it before. People from my group helped me understand all of the components to working it on the iPad, and it was a lot easier than I expected. The students also loved to tell me each step if they already had experience with green screen. It was interesting to me that you can insert any picture into the app and it serves as the background for a photo or video. I imagined the app just having template images that had to be used for the background. Some of the students had the most unique, creative ideas for background images! A few centered their ideas on famous celebrities or movies they enjoyed, and some tied in history pictures of World War II into the app.
I love to see the joy in their eyes once they made something on their own or watched themselves inserted into the picture they created. Each student’s personality comes out during Makerspaces, especially using green screen today. I always see the students using the engineering design process. They first ask about something they’re making, imagine, plan, create, and then improve all on their own. It’s great to see kids as young as first grade using this process naturally, guided by their own curiosity. I’m learning more about STEM within classrooms in my other classes, so I enjoyed observing students act out this process and having some knowledge about it ahead of time. As you can see below, the students loved to explore and play with both of these Makerspace activities.
Today in EDIT 4100S, we made soft circuits. I honestly forgot how to make a simple circuit that students learn in elementary school, so I didn’t know where to start. I began gathering supplies needed such as felt, yard, a needle, a battery, and two lights. I initially wanted to make a heart bracelet, but decided on a bookmark. Both of these ideas would be great to show the children over at Barrow for a Maker Space activity. I looked online at various examples and step-by-step instruction to figure out where to begin.
This soft circuit activity displays the components of Maker Education. I first tinkered with the objects I had, specifically the battery and lights. I had to play around with them until the lights finally turned on. It was interesting to discover and relearn circuits! Once I tinkered, I built a soft circuit. To start, I cut a rectangle, blue felt bookmark. I wanted the lights to be able to turn on and off, so I sewed a small pocket for the battery to slip in. As you can see below, I then sewed on the pocket and cut a little slip into the blue bookmark so I can adjust the lights whenever needed. Next, I cut out a green rocket ship and sewed that over the pocket. I had to double-check to make sure the lights poked out in the back. Lastly, I sewed a path that the rocket ship travelled.
I enjoyed this activity, but some of the sewing was a little difficult and tedious. I’m glad I had the opportunity to relearn sewing, as well as soft circuits though. Soft circuits would be an enjoyable STEM project to incorporate into upper-elementary school or middle school classrooms. Since a needle is needed to sew the battery into felt, it could also be a bit dangerous and tedious for younger-aged children.
Students’ curiosity will spark immediately as they get to take the role of a maker and create any design of their own. All of their ideas can have unique and diverse approaches as well. Most importantly, students can practice science and the basics of a circuit, while also engaging in Maker Spaces and the power of learning. I can’t wait to show the Barrow students this cool project and watch them as they build something of their own!
Today my group, The Master Makers, went to Barrow Elementary. When we first arrived, there were no students for Maker Spaces so we sorted legos based on color. After about 15 minutes, groups of students started showing up about every 15-20 minutes. The stations we had available were makey makey, duct tape, and legos. Since I’ve never really seen how makey makey worked, I began working at that station with some kids. Sadly, the wifi was out so we had to limit the stations to duct tape and Legos. For the first group, I helped a student build a duct tape wallet (below) and she was so proud of it! She’s never played with duct tape, and she was really excited to be able to build something for her first time. I like how the students and their creativity are the ones in charge during Maker Spaces, and we serve more as a mentor or an observer.
The next couple groups came in and I helped assist them with Legos. When I asked, “What are you going to create,” the students’ imaginations were huge! As you can see from the images below, the ideas ranged from a mosaic portrait, to a king’s throne, to an elaborate birdhouse. Each student had such a vivid picture in their head of what to create, and they actually made something and became so proud of it. When some of the pieces didn’t fit or fell off, they fixed and tweaked it themselves to better their structures. Each student loved to tell me every detail about their creation and used terms such as “maker” and “inventor.” It was interesting to me to see early childhood students being so engaged in Maker Spaces, engineering, and tweaking in order to build. They were a little bummed when they couldn’t takes their Lego creations home.
I think every elementary school should have a Maker Space in their media center so students can get a break from classes. Today they actually had a benchmark test and shared that Maker Spaces got their minds off of it. One student asked me what a Maker Spaces is and I shared some of the activities we do and he was so excited that he signed up. Sparking creativity in the classroom is a great way to encourage students to try as many times as they need, and maybe even fail, in order to build and learn something new. I’m excited to learn myself about all of the other activities we’ll do in Maker Spaces this year.