The 2016 Stewart MakerFair: Featuring the Awesome MakerCave & More

The 2016 Stewart MakerFair | Our 3rd Annual MakerFair was an awesome, amazing event. Learn all about our Maker Stations, Make and Take activities, and our awesome student projects, including the K'nex Crossbow, Maker Cave. K'nex roller coaster and Sphero vs. Dash obstacle course.

The 2016 Stewart MakerFair Every year since we started our makerspace in January 2014, we’ve held a Maker Fair during the last conference night of the year (See our 2014 MakerFair and our 2015 MakerFair).  This year’s was even bigger and more awesome.  We had more interactive student projects and I had more student volunteers … Read more

3 Ways a MakerFair Can Be An Awesome Advocacy Tool: AASL Post

3 Ways a Makerfair Can Be An Awesome Advocacy Tool: AASL Post | A Makerfair can be an amazing advocacy tool for both your library and your makerspace. Learn how it can help you bring your community in, give your students a chance to be teachers and serve as a documentation of student learning.

3 Ways Your MakerFair Can Be An Awesome Advocacy Tool As I reflect back on these three MakerFairs, I’ve come to realize what a powerful advocacy tool they have been for our space. You can tell people about how awesome your makerspace is all you want, but when they actually get to see it in … Read more

3 Reasons Why You Need to Have Tools in a Makerspace

3 Reasons Why You Need to Have Tools in a Makerspace | When I talked about how a makerspace isn't defined by the tools it does or does not have, some misinterpreted me as saying that tools were optional in makerspaces. In this post, I discuss the importance of tools and how they can create vital learning experiences for our students. But at the same time, it's less about what those tools are and more about what they can do for our students.

Reflecting on “Defining Makerspaces” Just over a year ago, I wrote my post on Defining Makerspaces.  It was inspired after receiving a criticism about how my makerspace wasn’t a “real makerspace” because we didn’t have any power tools.  The focus on that article was how a makerspace is defined more by the learning experiences of … Read more

How to Organize Your littleBits Collection

How to Organize Your littleBits collection | In this post, I detail my strategies and best practices for organizing a collection of littleBits. My school has a ProLibrary and 800 students, so finding an effective organization solution was critical.

How to Organize Your littleBits Back in the summer of 2014 when our makerspace was really starting to take shape, I won a littleBits ProLibrary in their Summer of STEAM contest.  The library came with the now optional wall storage but I knew that I didn’t have a wall space where I wanted to put … Read more

Makerspace Logistics: What Happens When I’m Not There

Makerspace Logistics: What Happens to my Makerspace When I'm Out | One question I frequently get is how much access my students have to our makerspace when I'm out speaking or sick. Here, I explain how I make it work.

This post is part of an occasional Makerspace Logisitics series, where I answer reader questions about the logistics of running our makerspace.  Here, I address what happens to my makerspace when I’m out In an ideal world… I would have a secretary and a second librarian and I would always get substitutes when I’m out. … Read more

How to Run a Rubber Band Launcher Challenge

How to run a RUBBER BAND LAUNCHER CHALLENGE: Includes suggested supplies, skills that help, ground rules to set and recommended resources for running a Rubber Band Launcher Challenge in your makerspace.

If you’ve been following Renovated Learning for awhile, you might remember the Catapult Challenge my Stewart Makers Club did last year with Colleen Graves’ students at Lamar Middle School.  My students had SO MUCH FUN with that challenge, although I always felt like Catapult Challenge was a bit of a misnomer, since our students’ creations … Read more

Make & Takes: Let Students Own the Learning

Make & Takes: Let Students Own the Learning | Many makerspaces tend to emphasize tech and tools that have to stay at the school. It's important to balance that out with activities that students can take home as well. Arts & crafts, cardboard challenge and other activities can be great make & takes for students. Also, it makes for awesome advocacy when parents get to see what your kids are making. |

Make & Takes Build Excitement & Engagement A few weeks ago, I was meeting with a group of girls to plan activities we want to do with our STEMgirls club that we’re starting.  They had tons of great ideas and suggestions: “We want to learn how to sew and make beds for an animal shelter” … Read more

Teaching the Design Process in Makerspaces

Teaching the Design Process in Makerspaces | The Engineering Design Process is a series of steps that engineers (and other designers) take when creating a product or idea. The steps of this process fit in perfectly with makerspaces. In this post, I talk about collaborating with one of our science teachers on a lesson on the design process.

Stewart Middle Magnet is a STEM magnet school.  Part of the curriculum comes from Project Lead the Way, including classes in engineering, robotics and aerospace.  The Design Process is an important part of that curriculum.  It also ties in beautifully with what we do in our makerspace.  So it made sense for me to partner … Read more

Read This Book: The Art of Tinkering

Read This Book: The Art of Tinkering | This amazing, beautiful designed book looks at the importance of tinkering in the creative process. It includes profiles of artists, project tutorials and lots of examples of tinkering in the fine arts. |

The Exploratorium & The Tinkering MOOC The Exploratorium is an amazing hands-on science museum in San Francisco.  They created a makerspace for their patrons called The Tinkering Studio.   I participated in their Tinkering MOOC this past summer and it was a fantastic experience.  They published their book, The Art of Tinkering, back in early 2014. … Read more