The second Student Makerspace Profile highlights the Perryville Middle School Makerspace. We’ve interviewed Scott Delosso, who shares insight into the space and provides some tips and tricks for new maker educators.
Name: Perryville Middle School Makerspace
Type of Space: Room In Middle School
Info: Located in Perryville, MD under Cecil County Public Schools
Maker Champion: Scott Dellosso
Why did you create your Makerspace?
I am extremely invested in the maker movement, and have been involved for a number of years now. I began by running Destination Imagination clubs, and incorporating making into that and my English classroom. I had a hard time that DI was limited to a team of 7 students, and so I wanted to bring making to a greater number of kids in my county. Making is something that can be beneficial to so many students, and when I got the lead Science teacher as a partner, I knew it was time.
What is your Makerspace?
A classroom was given for the makerspace. It is currently run as an after school club, with an aim to train teachers and allow them to bring students to the makerspace during the school day.
How did you make your Makerspace?
I first entered the making movement through learning about 3D printing, and so we already had one 3D printer. Two years ago, our school participated in the Perpetual Innovation Fund through the Digital Harbor Foundation, and our students practiced their entrepreneurial skills, being able to raise enough money to fund a second 3D printer. They entered a video contest sponsored by the White House and took home an honorable mention with their video about what we did.
Knowing we would want lots more fun toys to play with, and craft materials to create, we began a fundraising spree, and were able to raise a couple thousand dollars to buy more equipment: we got a Sphero Education pack, four drones, some MakeyMakeys, a few Arduinos, some podcasting mics, a green screen, and some other goodies as well. I wrote an article for other makers to use as a resource about how I did my fundraising.
How does your Makerspace get used?
We always start the club meeting with a short (20-30 min) making activity (straw rockets, building with kev planks, wind tubes, etc). The Digital Harbor Foundation has an excellent list and resource guide for these making activities on their Blueprint Resources site. You can get access to all these goodies by signing up for one of their Making for Educators courses.
As we have begun to grow and found our groove, our space has changed a bit in terms of how we organize the main activity.
For the first two months, we explored large themes and did whole group lessons with 50 something students. These themes lasted 3-4 weeks. For example, we started 3d printing with Tinkercad lessons, did Doodlefab, bubble wands, and more. Students were encouraged to iterate their designs and make them better from week to week. Then we did coding with Scratch, where students created their own games. We would start with some direct instruction, then allowed time for independent work.
After a while, it began to be tough to manage such large groups, so we came up with an 8 week rotation system for the next two months. Each week, students would rotate between Spheres Drones, MakeyMakeys, and Open Making. This method worked splendidly. However, we wanted to give even more choice for students.
Next, we decided on an opt in program, with a long list of other activities that would go for either 1 week or 4 weeks. Each student selected a 4 week program, and a one-off fun activity they would participate in for the next 5 weeks. This included things like making a podcast, making a viral video using green screen, building catapults, creating a stained glass project for the space, stop animation video, 3D scanning, and a few others.
Things to Know
Briefly explain three of your favorite projects or makes that have happened in your space:
- Our second meeting, we make two makerspace sign. A group of 2-3 students were each assigned a letter in the sign, each letter made out of different materials. We combined them to create a sign for outside the room and inside the room.
- Doodlefab bubble wands!
- The Wind Tube is by far one of the projects students love the most. They have to create an object that would float between the two blue lines of the tube. In fact, the local paper, the Cecil Whig, came to do an article on us that day! Here is the link to the article.
How do you give your students ownership of the space?
- Helping create the sign for the space right in the beginning.
- Always telling students “If you aren’t sure if you are allowed to do something, the answer is probably YES” 🙂
- One thing we noticed was in the club, boys outnumbered girls by nearly 8 to 1. We had two of our female makerspace teachers meet with all our girls, who gave their thoughts about what activities we could do, and how we could promote to get and keep more girls involved. Their thoughts were put into action, which we believe did a lot to get more girls involved in Making.
- Displaying maker projects around as best as possible. Next week we are going to do an opening activity called “Maker Village” where they will each construct a paper version of themselves from materials and we will hang them all up together.
Briefly share a little about a favorite tool or piece of equipment (Anything from a 3D printer to Scotch tape!)
The Wind Tube is a favorite among our makers. Also, believe it or not, during Open Making, hot glue and popsicle sticks seem to keep young makers entertained for hours and hours…. Also, FabHive! The most amazing time saver for collecting and starting prints.