Edutech for Teachers

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The Imagination Zone: Building a Generation of Makers

November7

imagination-zone_smallBy definition, a makerspace provides hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent as they engage in science, technology, engineering, art, math (STEAM) and some good ol’ fashioned tinkering. Even though these kinds of areas, also known as Hackerspaces and FabLabs, have been part of the MakerEd movement that has swept the country in recent years, my district has been watching this game from the sidelines.

That is, until now… After many months of training and planning with my friend and colleague Dr. Terri Harpster, my district was able to open our very first makerspace at Myers Elementary. Known as the Imagination Zone, this new learning environment is a brightly painted, kid-friendly place filled with cardboard, scissors, popsicle sticks, paint, glue and a movie making studio.

Last Friday some of my high school Tech Club students and I had the awesome opportunity to assist first grade teacher Kyley Longo and her students with completing the first official activity in the Imagination Zone since officially opening the space on October 28.

The task: To build a doghouse for their class pet—a stuffed animal named Chadwick, one that is used to promote B.A.R.K. (Bellwood-Antis Recognizes Kids), the school’s antibullying program.

Each group of first graders were assigned a specific task related to the construction of the dog house (i.e. the roof) and then all of the parts were pieced together to form the masterpiece. Check out the students literally making their design a reality…

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Check out their most excellent finished product!

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A huge shout out to Crystal Himes and the Bellwood-Antis School District Foundation for funding the development of this makerspace.

Major props also go out to Dr. Todd Keruskin and the Elizabeth Forward School District. Last spring our Administrative Team had the amazing opportunity to visit this district located in Western PA to take a look at their 1:1 iPad initiative, Media Center and FabLabs. After witnessing students at all levels designing all types of super cool projects in various spaces throughout the day, I set a few goals for myself and B-A—one of them being to create a makerspace.

To further my knowledge about makerspaces, Terri and I accepted an invitation from Dr. Todd to attend a FabLab Institute hosted by the EFSD last June.  From that point on, we were determined to have our very own makerspace.

Fast forward five months… Mission accomplished! Thanks again Dr. Todd, Superintendent Dr. Bart Rocco and all of the fabulous folks at EF for igniting the MakerEd fire in us!

Scenes from the EF FabLab Institute…

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All collages were created with the PicCollage app. ♥

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