Dream big and create.
That’s what Kim Herron, innovation coach at Eisenhower Elementary School, is telling her students to do in their brand-new Makerspace classroom.
As part of the McPherson School District’s effort to redesign its classrooms to promote successful graduates, project-based learning, technology and data analytics are a big part of the learning environment in the space.
This summer, teachers decided that a Makerspace would allow students to dream big and develop lifelong skills they need as successful high school graduates.
Students will have the chance to use the Makerspace once a week throughout the school year.
“This room is an awesome place. We’re doing
everything from guided sessions to self-sessions. I’ll be teaching them how to work together, choose the right materials, how to communicate, set their expectations and many other needed skills for the future,” Herron said.
Herron said that the room is a safe harbor for students to fail and to try again.
“This isn’t a graded area. This is where kids can come use their imagination and work together to solve problems and see what worked well and what doesn’t and just keep trying — its an endless cycle of that,” she said.
Students will work as partners to build and create whatever their heart desires. There is a green screen, photography, video equipment, coding, robotics, sewing, wood working, leather making and more — this room has it all.
To begin their class time, students will first draw a picture of what they want to build, gather materials and then build their product.
Herron always says she makes sure they (students) have time to reflect on what they did during class.
“We will have different reflection options. Students will be able to draw pictures to create a portfolio and watch themselves grow. They can also record their reflections. I just want them to keep a part of that self-directed learning cycle in their brains, and to learn what they can do better on next time,” Herron said.
Herron says she wants to teach her students how to explore and serve their community through the learning and work that takes place in their own makerspace.
“This is our motto here at Eisenhower, experience, explore and serve. So teachers are planning everything that connects this to their curriculum ... and to go out and explore by taking field trips. When they go on field trips and explore, they come back in this classroom and build whatever they explored. Some of the projects they build in here can be used out in their community. And we want to connect them to the community at an early age,” she said.
Obtaining the mentorship of area business people is also a must, she said.
“Our plan is to connect these guys to local industries and businesses. If we get a student who is good at designing, we can show that to one of the manufacturers and make a connection with them. We want to prepare them for those job opportunities and what does the world looks like out there,” she said.
With the help of other teachers from Eisenhower especially Lara Schoming, who helped get the room started, she said she is excited for the future of students at Eisenhower and what their dreams can do for them in this classroom.
“The staff here, everyone is excited. This room was based on what students need from teachers. This idea didn’t come from someone big, it came from teachers. It’s exciting to have this open mindset and we’re doing everything together in this space,” she said.