So, I purchased 6 Bloxel game boards when they went on sale Black Friday ($30 apiece). I was super pleased, thinking I had gotten a great deal. However, as I put the Bloxels out for kids to use, many of them ignored the board completely and built their entire game (character, background, action pieces) on the iPad app - which is FREE, by the way! What's my point? Try the free app first! The kids had a blast making up their own video games and it is a pretty intuitive app. I had some students show me some things and there are tutorials on YouTube. Give it a go!
I emailed our district warehouse manager and asked if he had any old equipment that I could tear up. He was intrigued! I did some research so I knew what items would be "safe" to take apart. Tape players and VCRs are the best. The warehouse had plenty of those so I ordered 10-12 assorted items and then ended up driving over and picking up more because the kids were really tearing through them!
Word of advice: Make your students wear safety goggles. They will complain but it is for their safety. Buy a #1 screwdriver (it has to be skinny to get in some tight places). Splurge on pliers because they LOVE them. Cut the electric cord before they begin so they are not tempted to plug it in while they're dismantling the equipment. This was one of the most popular Maker Space activities all year!
To celebrate the Hour of Code, we're coding on the app Kodable during Maker Space for two weeks. The kids are also learning what binary means and making bracelets with their initials in binary. It's amazing how quickly they catch on... the kids in the middle picture are kindergarteners, many of whom have never tried coding before! When I think of what they can accomplish with just a little guidance, I'm excited about their future and ours!
The students had their choice of five different games: Newton (an engineering type game), Words (similar to Hang Man), Numbers (math game), Tangrams (shape game) and Masterpiece (drawing app). Every game started off with an easy level but progressed according to the student's skill level. Every student was challenged, but not frustrated, I think. I'm really interested in the new Osmo games that are coming out. I'm trying to encourage our teachers to check Osmo out to use in their classrooms.
Due to changes in our master schedule, Maker Space had to adjust too. Now, classes send 4 students a week to Maker Space at every grade level! That means more students coming to try out Ozobots (see above) and build hexbug mazes (see far right).
We've hosted two Maker Mondays so far - one for 5th and one for 4th. I kept it very unstructured. I put out Cubelets, Snap Circuits, Little Bits, Ollies and iPads, and Zoob STEM challenge kits. The only thing I had to monitor was the Ollie usage, because the kids did NOT want to stop playing with them. I had hopes of getting the kids to use the Tynker app to program their Ollies, but they quickly figured out how to override the coding and get to the controls.
The kids arrived as soon as school let out (around 2:45) and stayed for an hour exploring all of the Maker Space activities laid out. I am happy that I used the Eventbrite app to allow parents to purchase free tickets for the event. I just printed out the list of attendees and checked them off. Easy-peasy! They're already asking me when the next Maker Monday is...SUCCESS!
We are so excited to announce a new club at Fern Bluff - Maker Mondays! Mrs. Perch and I will be hosting Maker Mondays every other Monday. We're kicking it off with 5th grade on September 14th. I will email the teachers with an Eventbrite link that they will email their parents. You can sign your child up on Eventbrite (it's free!) and guarantee them a spot. There are only 30 spaces available, so you'll have to be quick about it. I'll be posting pictures soon -- we're hoping to play with Little Bits, Ollies and a STEM Zoob Challenge Kit!
Maker Night was our culminating event to celebrate all the activities we had in our Maker Space all year long. I only had enough materials for 200 students, so I sent out Eventbrite invitations and parents procured free tickets through the Eventbrite website in order to attend.
We had five sessions of about 15-20 minutes each for students and their parents to circulate around and get hands-on with different materials. Next time, I think I'll have more sessions that are shorter so that everyone can have more opportunities to at least TOUCH all the materials, if not get deeply involved in tinkering... Overall, it was a lot of fun!
Magformers were an inexpensive, fun way to introduce magnets and building interesting shapes. ALL ages enjoyed working with these items and worked together well in pairs. We gave the kids the option of making their own shapes or using the "idea" booklet that was included with the Magformers. Some of the more difficult designs involved creating a flat object first, then pulling up on the middle Magformer and letting all the other magnets click into place -- really fun and an aha moment for the kids!
I found Cubelets online and couldn't wait to try them! They are tiny, cube-shaped robots. Each cube has a different function. We outline each function for the kids, then we tell them to make it do something. There are a few cards with different designs they can copy, but the students have more fun making it up as they go along. I have challenge cards for the older students who might get bored just reconfiguring 6 cubelets. The only downside? They are quite costly - $150 for a set of 6. All the kids are asking their parents to buy them... sorry, Mom and Dad!
I'm the librarian at Fern Bluff Elementary. We're piloting a Maker Space in the library this year. Maker Spaces, STEAM labs and fab labs are popping up in schools across the country. Maker Spaces provide hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent as they deeply engage in science, engineering and tinkering.I'm going to share what works and what doesn't.