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In Remix

By Elizabeth Wroten

Notes From the Makerspace: CUE recap

On 13, Nov 2014 | In Remix | By Elizabeth Wroten

Two weekends ago I attended the CUE (Computer Using Educators) fall conference. I really like this conference because it is for education (a lot of the professional development I do is really just for librarians) and it has tons, and I mean tons, of session options. It runs over two day, a Friday and a Saturday.

I went last year and attended one session that was all about makerspaces and the maker movement and it is what really started my mission to get a makerspace up and running. My husband and I talked a lot about it and we got the after school enrichment administrator and the art teacher on board. And then we let the ball drop. I was busy at home with our daughter and my husband has plenty on his plate.

This fall we picked up again when the head of the middle school gave us a little kick in the pants and started the conversation up again. We pretty much picked up where our plans from the previous school year and had fallen off and now I’m running the makerspace.

This year at CUE there were a ton more sessions about makerspaces I tried to attend them all, even if they were more about getting started than about actually running it. It was such a relief to hear people talking about the same things I have been thinking about for a couple years now (in conjunction with makerspaces and with the Reggio approach that I’ve been researching). It was also a relief to hear that other people are just jumping in and learning as they go along much like I am.

My biggest take-aways:

We need a dedicated space. In our own space I won’t be having to clean everything up and tuck it tightly into bins every afternoon. I can leave projects out and this helps the kids pick back up where they were and keep projects going for extended periods of time. I know that this kind of thing will help kids delve more deeply into projects and learning.

I want a 3D printer. Last year I saw a session on copyright by Christine Mytko. This educator is amazing. She made copyright cool. This year she was talking about 3D printing and you should have seen the stuff she has had her kids learn how to do. It was stunning (her site has more). I know a 3D printer isn’t absolutely necessary, but if I could use one to get the kind of learning she got out of her kids it would be incredible.

It’s wonderful to know that there are people who want this in education. Sometimes I feel very lonely and out-there with my educational ideas. Unstructured time for kids? Letting a second grader use a drill and hand saw? Yes! Let’s have some faith in kids and let’s give them time to be creative and thoughtful and follow what they are interested in! It was nice to hear that others think about this the way I do.

If you do have activities set up, they should fit on a post-it. Instructions should be simple and the set up should help make what needs to be done evident. (I will talk more about this in my next makerspace post).

-I need to read Invent to Learn and Tinkering from Make magazine.

In all, I’m so glad I went to this and got to talk about makerspaces some more.

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