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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Reflections on Makerspace, Science Week and Shrinky Dinks

Every Thursday Lunchtime we set up a Makerspace area in the Learning Commons where students can tinker with makeable objects, be it technology or crafty gadgets.

In an ideal world we would have a breakout space where we could allow students to get access to this equipment all the time, but for the moment, our Learning Commons is a shared space and space is at a premium. So at the end of lunch the space needs to be packed up as it is used for teaching and learning during Period 4.

For Science week, the Learning Commons staff collaborated with the Science Domain to set up a shrink dink workshop where students could create their own science jewellery, brooches or key-rings.

It was a great session, we had over 20 students and 4 staff members jostling for access to tools and equipment. Lots of conversation about what "science" emblem, element or diagram they were making and why. The Learning Commons at lunchtime is normally full of students and teachers, this added to the atmosphere of the maker space.

As we wiped down the tables at the end of the session, there were a few thoughts and reflections on how it went and what we could do better next time.

1. Be clear on procedures for Bump in and Bump out

In an ideal world students would assist with this, but realistically there needs to be support staff to ensure that these stages go smoothly. Labelled containers, plastic pockets and tools all need to have a place to live and return to. What is the expectation of the students at the end of the session? Do they have to help pack up?

We held our workshop at lunchtime, so we had everything set up the period before so that students could just sit down and play with the technology and tools.
  • Craft Placemats x 16
  • Hole punches x 5
  • Coloured Pencils x 3 packets
  • Permanent fine tip markers x 2 packets
  • Sandpaper
  • Pre-cut shrinkable plastic
  • Instruction sheets x 6
  • Scissors x 8
  • caution tape (for drama)
  • witches hats (for drama)
  • Variety of jewellery piers and hardware to make earrings, pendants and brooches.
We found that the stools around tables worked better than chairs.

2. Instructions

Even if you don't think that students will need it, instruction sheets ensure that the teachers know what is going on! I like the idea of having a simple side and and a complex side to instructions so that students can choose which side they like to use.

We made a simple 6 step instruction sheet for the students to follow and the rest of the details of how to use Shrinky Dinks is on the Learning Commons Libguide space.

3. Safety - OHS considerations

Do you need to manage tools? Do the tables need protecting? I would like to get some padded table protectors so that we don't have to worry about accidents when working in this shared space.

For the shrinking, one of the science teachers took groups of students to the staffroom to use the oven. A toaster oven would be a great idea, but then you would need to maintain it and get it tested regularly.

4. Time Expectations

How long does it take to do the whole process?

If it took you 10 minutes, it will take a student 20 minutes (not because they don't know, but because they need to decide on their picture, talk to their friends and work out which colours to use).

Have ideas or images pre-laminated to trace over. Most of our students actually traced off their iPad's or phones the images they wanted to "shrink".

5.  Follow-through

Makerspace initiative isn't just about tinkering in the school library. It is about igniting that curiosity within so that students go home and continue to tinker and learn.

Make sure that the students have something to go home with. Instruction sheets, equipment lists and a hashtag to share their creations with.


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