How to Make Awesome Plans for a New Makerspace
For the first time in four years, I am without a makerspace. My new school’s library is beautiful and huge and has a school culture that is just ripe for making. Even though it was tempting, I decided not to change it up and create a makerspace over the summer. I want to be sure that the library program, including a new makerspace, is responsive to the needs of the school and its culture. Therefore, I plan on spending at least the first-semester making plans for how this space will work. It will likely be very different from my previous space, but I’m excited to see what forms.
Making plans for a new makerspace can be daunting, so I’ve gathered together some tips to help get started:
Form a Student Advisory Board
This can take many different forms. It could be a library leadership team. A Makerspace Planning Committee. Whatever verbage you want to use. The idea is to gather together a representative group of students to help you plan your space. You can bring in different maker tools for them to try out and give feedback. If possible, take them on a field trip to another makerspace or a local school with a makerspace. Watch videos about makerspaces. This group will help your plans to come together. They’ll help to insure that there is plenty of student voice in your space (and that your students will actually use it).
Figure out Where to Store Supplies
As you start to make plans for your space, you’ll likely start to acquire tools and materials. Figure out where you will put them. If you’re lucky enough to have a spare storage room, go for it. Others have cleared off library shelves and stored their supplies there. My current library is frequently reconfigured for various school functions, so I’ll likely be using a variety of carts (including these) to help keep things organized and flexible.
Host Maker Lunches
Maker Lunches are a great way to dip your toe into maker programming without having a full-blown makerspace. They’re also fantastic as a way to build a maker culture in your students and introduce different tools and materials. I’m working on plans to have at least one Maker lunch a month to start off.
Survey Your Population
After you’ve started to flesh out some ideas with your advisory board, it’s a good idea to survey your population. Find out what activities students are interested in. Learn about what tools and materials they already have experience with. Discover if you have some awesome maker mentors hiding among your students and teachers that can help teach skills to others. All of these will continue to shape your plans.
Find Natural Collaborators
Get some teachers on board with what you’re doing. There are so many ways to incorporate making into your curriculum. You can create MaKeyMaKey poetry with your language arts classes. You can collaborate with your art teacher on recycled book art. Connect with your science teachers to teach a lesson on paper circuits and conductivity. The more teachers you get on board early on, the stronger your maker program will become.
What have things have you done to plan a new makerspace? Share in the comments 🙂
Note: A lot of these ideas are also in my new book, Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace, which comes out August 31. Check it out 🙂