What Is a Makerspace in a School?

Do you want your students to have more opportunities to create and experiment? Do you want to help them explore their skills and talents in a fun, no-pressure way?

If you said “yes” to these questions, you might want to think about setting up a Makerspace in your school.

Have you never heard of Makerspaces in schools? Not sure what one should include? Read on to learn everything you need to know.

What Is a Makerspace?

A Makerspace is an area dedicated to hands-on learning and creativity.

These spaces are often used in businesses and startups to brainstorm and come up with new solutions. They’re starting to pop up in schools throughout the world, though, to provide students with more chances to get their hands dirty, so to speak, and learn in new ways.

Whether it’s in a school or a business office, the key to a successful Makerspace is for those who are using it to actually make something. This could be a digital product designed on a tablet, a tangible creation made with cardboard and tape, or anything in between.

Benefits of Makerspaces

Makerspaces are great for students of all ages. Here are some specific benefits they have to offer:

Opportunities to Innovate

The typical classroom experience doesn’t provide a lot of opportunities for innovation and creativity. More often than not, students are stuck at their desks, staring at the teacher, and listening to the lecture from the front of the room.

Makerspaces provide a great contrast to the standard learning experience. They give students a chance to create and learn by doing.

Access to a Makerspace can help kids to stay engaged and have a more enjoyable time at school. It can also prevent behaviour issues, such as talking during class or not turning in homework.

Real-World Applications

At first glance, you might assume that students aren’t doing a lot of learning or getting a lot out of using a Makerspace.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking they’re just “playing.” In reality, though, students who have access to Makerspaces can develop skills that have real-world applications.

For example, a student who uses a Makerspace can develop their fine motor skills and learn how to create working models. Over time, they might even learn that they have an interest in engineering or architecture!

Learn from Failure

Students who use a Makerspace will learn very quickly that their projects don’t always turn out according to plan. Sometimes, they will make mistakes, and they’ll have to figure out how to correct those mistakes.

Makerspaces allow students to learn from failure and persevere when things get tough.

This is one of the most valuable skills a child can learn in school. The more grit they develop early on in life, the better off they’ll be when they grow up and enter the workforce.

Develop Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

Makerspaces help students to learn what works and what doesn’t when they’re putting together various projects. These lessons, in turn, encourage them to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

In addition to grit, being a good critical thinker and creative problem-solver will carry over into various areas of your students’ lives. If you want to set them up for long-term success, access to a Makerspace can be a great addition to your regular curriculum.

Improved Focus

Some students do well sitting at a desk all day and listening to a lecture. For many of them, though, they can only be expected to sit still for so long.

Girl with binoculars

Do you have students who struggle to stay focused and concentrate? If so, perhaps you need to find ways to break up the day with creative play and hands-on learning.

If students know that they’ll eventually have access to the Makerspace, they might be more motivated to behave during other parts of the day. They’ll also have a chance to get some energy out, which makes it easier for them to sit still when you’re explaining something or need them to work quietly.

Opportunities to Collaborate

Finally, Makerspaces provide students with new ways to learn how to collaborate and work as a team.

By creating projects together, they’ll develop lots of skills. They can learn how to give clear directions, for example, and how to provide constructive feedback.

All of this will absolutely carry over and be applicable in their future schooling, as well as when they start working.

How to Set Up a Makerspace for Your School

Do you want your students to experience the benefits of Makerspaces? The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to give your students a space to innovate and explore.

Here are some simple Makerspace ideas that you can implement today:

Choose a Location

Start by selecting an area for your Makerspace. It could be a corner of a classroom, or it could even be in a larger part of the school, such as the library. That way, students of all ages can utilize it.

In theory, the Makerspace should be big enough for around 3-4 students to work together at once. There should also be a display area for project ideas and general rules, as well as a sturdy work surface and some ergonomic chairs so kids can be comfortable while they create.

Look for Organizational Tools

How do you keep your Makerspace from turning into a cluttered mess? Provide plenty of storage containers to make organization easy.

Look for bins, baskets, trays, and other supplies that keep supplies and projects sorted. There are plenty of low-cost options available at dollar stores and hardware stores, so be sure to check those out if you’re working with a tight budget.

Ask for Donations

You can also ask for donations. Reach out to the parents of your students and ask them to bring in items from around the house that can add to the Makerspace. This includes storage items, as well as supplies that students can use for their projects, such as ping pong balls, toothpicks, cardboard, tape, blocks, and different types of fabric.

Establish Some Rules

Yes, the goal of a Makerspace is to give students the freedom to create and explore. This doesn’t mean there can’t also be guidelines for them to follow, though.

For example, you might need to establish a rule saying students who are using the Makerspace have to stay in that area (they can’t go run across the room to show a friend what they’re working on). You can also make a rule that everyone has to clean up when they’re finished.

It’s a good idea to create an inventory list for the Makerspace, too. That way, when certain supplies are running low, students can let you know.

Create a Wish List

Some big-ticket items like 3D printers, computers, and tablets can turn Makerspaces into awesome places for creative play and problem-solving. It’s not easy to go and pick one of these up, though.

Consider making a wish list with larger items that you’d like to eventually have for your classroom or school’s Makerspace. Get your students involved in this process. Ask them what kinds of tools they’d like access to so you can tailor the space specifically to them.

Create a Makerspace Today

You now know a lot more about the use of Makerspaces in schools and the benefits they have to offer. Are you interested in creating one for your students?

Keep the ideas outlined above in mind so you can set up the perfect place for kids to collaborate, explore, and learn together.