One question we are asked frequently by educators is “How do I find the time to build making into my program?”. For all educators and program designers, this can be a big hurdle to overcome, but if you are committed to the cause, you can find some time to fit it in.
Our preference is working outside of school where there are less constraints on time, expectations, and structure. Beginning outside school time allows for creativity and trial and error without the high stakes impact on school day programs. There are many valuable programs that started as out-of-school programs, such as JROTC, Marching Band, and robotics, that were eventually proven as beneficial programs enough to be built into the school day.
Our favorite out-of-school opportunity is after the school day when youth (and parents) are looking for extracurricular activities to participate in. However, starting a before school club could also be a great opportunity.
There are also many opportunities within libraries, community centers, and rec centers where maker programs could be integrated.
We also really like the idea of hosting a special event to get started with making. Hosting an Innovation Day or Family Night event at your school might be a great way to get buy-in from your community.
A great opportunity for a special event is the Global Cardboard Challenge which is an annual event that occurs in October or November each year. This event encourages communities to gather as much cardboard as possible and build amazing things together!
During the School Day
Many educators are interested in how they can build making into their existing school day structure. Our advice is to start small and build as you go. We have a couple suggestions for getting started in a low-barrier way that allow you to test out some ideas:
- Open Lunch – invite students in to your space to eat lunch and make things
- Centers or Stations – this would work really well in an elementary setting where centers and stations might already be part of the day
- Activity Period – for secondary schools using an activity period, this would be a great place to try out some maker projects
For some content areas, such as tech ed or art, integrating a makerspace seems like the easiest and natural fit for these programs. However, we believe that making can take place in most classes and content areas and challenge educators to find a way to make it work. One middle school Language Arts teacher we spoke to recently had the idea to build in a “open make day” to her week to accommodate an in-depth creative project related to a reading assignment. She proposed that her students would read a book as an at-home assignment and then be given class time to work on a maker project related to the story.