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Middle School Maker Space opens this fall

October 5, 2015

Students work in the maker spaceStudents at Oliver W. Winch Middle School have a new space to enjoy this fall.

The new space, a “maker space,” is an extension of the library media center where students have an independent work space for hands-on learning and projects.

“It’s a place for kids to explore solving problems,” said OWWMS Principal Tim Dawkins, who credits OWWMS library media center specialist Maureen Borgeest with the idea for the space in the first place and the SGF tech department for a significant amount of work to get it ready over the summer. “The maker space is a place for them to get excited about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), and find answers to questions in a creative, hands-on way.”

The maker space allows students to be creative from the ground up, even with furniture. The space will feature movable tables, a SMART Board, a 3-D printer, several computers, including Chromebooks and desktops for student use and a charging shelf.

Students work in the maker spaceStudents will also be able to experiment with taking objects and electronics apart. The room will include tools–pliers, hammers, a socket set and screwdrivers, which will give students the opportunity to explore by taking things apart and then trying to put them back together again.

There will be opportunities for art projects, such as origami and the online game where students build virtual worlds, Minecraft.

Students will be able to visit the maker space during a study hall or at a time when they might be in the library.

Recently, a group of students were spending their study hall in the maker space, working on building and programming a robot that had named Bobby, Jr.

The students were working to get it right through trial and error, which is one of the best parts of the space, Dawkins said, since it gives them the freedom to figure things out without there being one right way to solve a problem.

“Kids learn better when they’re doing, rather than being told,” Dawkins said. “We’re giving kids the power to explore and come up with their own answers.”

Dawkins recently hosted an “open house” for other principals and teachers at the district’s other schools to see if anyone else might consider creating a space like this for their students.

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