By Jenny Krueger, Publishing Director, School/Library
Who doesn’t love a good field trip? We at Lerner recently had a great one thanks to librarians Anna Jacobson at Falcon Heights Elementary and Anna Zbacnik at nearby Brimhall Elementary.
We had the pleasure of touring their libraries and makerspaces, and at Falcon Heights we even got to see a makerspace in action! It was loud, somewhat chaotic, and lots of fun. The kids were amazing, using some devices and programs for the first time with gusto.
The library was abuzz with activity as students experimented with stop-motion video, Magnetiles, Spheros, Ozobots, and more. We watched as they programmed Ozobots to follow paths they drew with markers. The paths included color-coded commands telling the Ozobot when to go forward or backward.
We also discussed STEM with Falcon Height’s STEM teacher, Alicia Sandy. She shared a presentation on how she teaches the engineering process to upper elementary students, including how that process promotes teamwork and empathy. She also showed us her mobile STEM cart, including the Rokenbok robotics system, pictured below.
At Brimhall Elementary, we had a great conversation about how Anna has incorporated maker activities in her library space.
If you’re considering starting your own makerspace at your school or library, here are a few takeaways:
- Makerspaces can be high-tech affairs . . . or not so much. Brimhall students are big fans of cardboard (and cardboard scissors!).
- Makerspaces can demonstrate teamwork and the social/emotional skills that go along with it, such as empathy.
- Kids can use prescriptive projects, but they are often looking more for aspirational examples of what’s possible.
- Time is at a premium. Makerspace time is usually just 20-30 minutes, so projects and challenges that can be completed quickly are best.
Special thanks to Anna Jacobson, Alicia Sandy, and Anna Zbacnik for sharing your libraries with us!