What is a Makerspace?

Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, the Yough Intermediate Middle School is opening, developing, and using the first of its kind lab, a makerspace. A makerspace is a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools. These spaces are open to all Yough Intermediate students and have a variety of maker equipment including 3D printers and laser cutters. A makerspace however doesn’t need to include all of these machines or even any of them to be considered a makerspace. If you have cardboard, legos and art supplies you’re in business. It’s more of the maker mindset of creating something out of nothing and exploring your own interests that’s at the core of a makerspace. These spaces are also helping to prepare those who need the critical 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). They provide hands on learning, help with critical thinking skills and even boost self-confidence. Some of the skills that are learned in a makerspace pertain to electronics, 3D printing, 3D modeling, coding, robotics and even woodworking.

Makerspaces have been called a Fab Lab or Techshop. Is there a difference between these names? Yes and no. At the core, they are all places for making, collaborating, learning and sharing. Although these spaces have a lot in common, they are also different in a few ways.

To start with, a FabLab and Techshop are trademarked names for a particular type of makerspace. They are both generally stocked with similar types of maker equipment like 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, hand tools etc.

The Yough Makerspace is operated by Grade 7 Science Teacher, Sarah Hackney. Ms. Hackney provides lessons to staff and students in regards to how a Makerspace lab can be incorporated into their daily curriculum. Ms. Hackney along with grade 6 teacher, Crystal Donaldson, have trained most of the Yough Intermediate teaching staff on proper usage of the materials in the lab such as the laser cutter and the Green Screen. Currently, classes are going into the lab as a platform for learning and innovation: a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor, to invent.

Each month, Ms.Hackney has Makerspace challenges for the student body. October’s challenge was to create a haunted house. The winner was Tressa Kibel. November’s challenge is Thanksgiving Day parade floats. Stay tuned for the winner. All students in all grade levels have the ability to participate in a challenge.

For more information on how you can donate materials to the Makerspace Lab, please contact Ms. Hackney or Mr. Smetak at the Middle School.