Students burst through the door of room 110, say a happy hello to teacher Diana Basilone, and return to their work with the purposefulness of robins building their nests.
Welcome to John Jay Middle School’s Makerspace! What used to be a computer lab has been transformed to a creativity lab, inviting students to explore, collaborate and build. It’s a popular new recess option available to all students, an array which also includes, in the cold winter months, the gym, library and theater, where movies are shown.
The room can also be reserved by teachers to augment lessons. This past winter, Sue Reiss’s 7th grade Latin class met in the Makerspace to create Play-Doh maps of the area surrounding Mt. Vesuvius.
engaging and productive work
There are low-tech supplies: bins of beads and sparkles, shelves of paints and paper, a sewing machine, white board and more, well as high-tech toys including Lego robotics, littleBits modular electronics and Snap Circuits building components.
Projects in process and those too wonderful to remove line the counters by the windows. Students cluster around work tables, absorbed in engaging and productive work.
Model of Map Surrounding Mount Vesuvius
In the words of the users ...
Lily has been making an adjustable height café table out of a cardboard tube and other recyclables. “Makerspace is a place where I can use my imagination,” she said.
“You can do whatever you want,” said Katya, who is making earrings out of beads and hoops. “I can spend time doing what I love,” said Riley, who has just built a ramp to allow a Sphero—a programmable robot ball—to roll into a maze.
The self-directed, hands-on projects are absorbing and just the kind of break from academic classes that many students need. Twenty minutes isn’t nearly enough time to put all of their ideas into action. Good thing they can come back tomorrow!