In recent years there has been a movement in public and school libraries to create a space where patrons have the opportunity to create, explore, and innovate. Mineral Wells ISD is implementing the “makerspace” movement by utilizing the campus libraries. Our school libraries are more than just books; they serve as a connection between knowledge and students. The concept behind makerspaces is that students apply the knowledge they have gained in the library and elsewhere in a creative manner.
The goal of makerspaces at our elementary campuses, is to create problem solvers and to give students the opportunity to explore hands-on. During students’ regularly scheduled library visit, they have the opportunity to investigate a number of activities such as coding, robotics, engineering iPad apps, Makey Makey invention kits, even K’Nex and Lego’s. Each hands-on activity allows students to be innovative, creative, and helps them to learn how to work with their classmates to construct a final product.
The newest additions to the Travis makerspace have been a magnetic, four foot roller coaster wall and a seven foot Epic Lego Wall. The roller coaster wall allows students to manipulate a roller coaster track of their own design and then attempt to successfully run a marble through it. Students are utilizing the concepts of physics when they must take into account the potential and kinetic energy involved in order to get their marble to the end of the track. Too much velocity will cause the marble to jump the track and students will need to re-think their design to find a solution to their problem.
The Epic Lego Wall has been quite popular with students as they work together to create their two and three dimensional designs. They must take into account the weight of their creation and make sure gravity doesn’t bring it down.
Our goals for the future include getting teachers more involved in the movement by bringing their classes to explore between library visits and eventually creating their own makerspaces in their classrooms to develop a maker culture throughout the campus. This movement enables students to create in a low-risk environment while sharing the fun of learning with classmates.
Here is a wonderful video from Lamar Elementary students explaining the importance of makerspaces.