Name: Hillcrest Elementary Makerspace
Type of Space: Elementary In School
Info: Located in Catonsville, MD under Baltimore County Public Schools
Maker Champion: Peggy Koenig
Why did you create your Makerspace?
I had an awareness of the maker movement seeping into education, but the main explanation is serendipity. Another BCPS elementary school was losing its dedicated space for making and our elementary science supervisor (Eric Cromwell) was looking for a new home for the makerspace goodies. The basic supplies (mainly tools and adhesives) in addition to a 3D printer were up for grabs, so I put a bug in the ear of said supervisor since he and I were working together writing new science curricula. Those events, coupled with the open-mindedness of Hillcrest’s new principal, resulted in Hillcrest setting up a makerspace in a computer lab.
What is your Makerspace?
It is a computer lab – desktops around the perimeter of the room with supplies and making tables in the center of the room. When the room is booked, teachers often go “shopping” for materials to use with students back in their classroom.
How did you make your Makerspace?
As mentioned earlier, Hillcrest inherited basic supplies and tools along with a 3D printer. We established an Innovation Team to specialize in outreach to faculty and maintenance of the space. Several weeks into hosting our makerspace, we realized we needed a flow of materials with which to make. The Innovation Team uses social media (Facebook and Twitter) to appeal for donations for the lab. Originally, we asked for particular donations from families based on the grade levels of their students. It’s more opened ended now that we’re established and most parents know what we stock. We are very proud of the fact that we upcycle many materials that normally would go into the recycling bin.
How does your Makerspace get used?
Teachers sign up on a shared calendar (through Outlook) to bring their class to the MakerLab. Teachers have students make as an extension to their existing instruction. This year, we also started a maker club that meets once a week before school. The club is open to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. We have signs posted around the MakerLab for best practices for using materials, but the Innovation Team created some commercials to show teachers and students before their first visit: https://vimeo.com/138331043 and https://vimeo.com/138246970
Things to Know
How do you give your students ownership of the space?
Making is inherently personalized. Once we pose a problem with possible constraints, it’s up to the students to make something to solve the problem and honoring the limitations. Taking a cue from DHF, we are working to formally allow students to give input and feedback regarding the use of the MakerLab. We’d like to have a Student Maker Advisory Board eventually, but the very short term input is a suggestion box in the MakerLab.
How do you involve your community?
Thus far, we get most of our supplies from the Hillcrest community. At our 1st school Maker Faire last year, we invited community makers to show off their skills and we got many donations from area businesses. We plan to grow all of that for our 2nd Maker Faire in April.
Briefly share a little about a favorite tool or piece of equipment (Anything from a 3D printer to Scotch tape!)
My favorite tool is the EMT scissors. My older students look at them and think they’re safety scissors for little kids that won’t cut anything. Once they actually try them though – WOW! My 4th and 5th grade students’ favorite tool would probably be fluorescent duct tape, with hot glue guns a close second.