Our Maker Movement in the Middle School

Excitement is a great word to describe what is going on here in the Middle School.

The iLearn Lab (formerly the MS PC Lab) has taken flight.  The PCs are gone.  A few iMacs have moved in.  Talk about what this space can be has increased in volume.  With the help of many, this space is carefully being transformed into a Maker Space.

We have done some serious demolition to the old lab.  The entire perimeter of the room used to have computer stations and those stations are now gone and replaced with nothing…yet! The vision that I have for this lab is very simple.  I want a space that takes on the mantra of “Less is more.”  We are moving along with some really exciting ideas for this space.  The USM maintenance crew has been very helpful in this endeavor.  Tables are mobile.  Everything will be on casters.

This idea stems from a visit to my dad’s house in Pennsylvania.  Growing up, we had every tool imaginable in a garage that housed four huge coal delivery trucks.  If I needed a Soldering Gun, it was in the Soldering Gun drawer and when I opened it up there was a choice of colors.  If I needed a crow bar, there was always four or five to choose from.    I am hoping to have many of these tools for our students to use.

Tinkering plays such a huge part in solving problems.  Trial and error and not being afraid to fail play the biggest part in this space.

Currently we have robotics kits that the kids are really fired up about.  Many students have come to the lab wanting to see and hear what it is all about.  The excitement from the kids is infectious, given there is very little in this space at the present time!.  The kits are being used as an introduction to what can be done.  The students have been putting together solar powered cars, windmills, planes and boats.

In passing I have heard many people expressing interest in the space.  From robotics, to app building, to working with circuitry and scrapbooking, this space  can be whatever we want it to be.

To help organize and develop this space, a Design Team has been put into motion, which includes a great sample of students from all grade levels in the Middle School, who have volunteered to help.  Who better to ask, then our very own tech savvy and well informed students?

Please keep your ear to the ground as we develop this area into a wonderful tinkering space for all students in the Middle School.

If you are interested in learning more about this movement, feel free to download a great book that will go into more details about maker spaces. It is currently free on Amazon as a Kindle download.

Invent To Learn – Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary S. Stager
http://amzn.to/1bvJUWk

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this space.  Also, a very special  thank you goes out to all MS teachers and especially Pam Nosbusch who has been very supportive of all of these maker ideas.

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2 thoughts on “Our Maker Movement in the Middle School

  1. Kristie September 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm Reply

    Tom,
    Congratulations on this! It’s a fabulous idea and addition to the school. This is the kind of technology based learning that is meaningful and not merely digital tools overlaid on analog thinking. I look forward to seeing it. We ought to get some after school robotics teams formed for lower and middle school. Also check out hacker scouts- this would be an ideal place for that. Best, kristie

    • Tom Mussoline September 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm Reply

      Kristie,
      Thank you for the kind words! We are working on some interesting ideas here at USM. Last year we had an app club that created a few apps for iOS. This year, that club is now called Creation Club. We will be using the middle school iLearn Lab to create ANYTHING that the students find interesting.
      This space will be coming together soon. I will keep everyone posted on the progress via this blog.
      Tom

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