30 Ways to Create the Conditions to Inspire in a Makerspace

11/9/2016 12:10:00 AM

I recently took my students into New York City to meet with the team from Buncee. In addition to being an amazing multimedia storytelling tool, Buncee has an incredibly passionate and committed group of people on their team. They spent time talking to our students by starting and running a business, as well as sharing what it is like to work in a coworking space.

Thanks to Buncee's help and generosity, they arranged for my students to also meet with teams from Place Pixel and Get Bevi, who spoke with our students about being tech startups.

Screenshot 2016-03-31 at 1.11.38 PM

This day was not only incredibly amazing and insightful for our students, it was equally as rewarding for me.  The companies we met with all work in a collaborative office space called Alley NYC.  What I discovered while visiting this space is that…

A startup culture is a maker culture

Perhaps one of the most important lessons I learned at Alley NYC, is the role an inspiring environment can play in helping to create a dynamic community and culture. 

So much of what I saw in New York City that day can be applied to our makerspaces. Upon entering the offices at Alley NYC, one cannot help but feed off of the dynamic energy that this inspiring space fosters.  A similar energy and spirit should run through our makerspaces.

A question I am frequently asked by schools who have makerspaces is:

How can we get more of our students engaged in our makerspaces? 

Many educators feel that their direct instruction is what is needed to engage students in making experiences. While I do believe that there can be a place for some instruction for skill-building in a makerspace, I don't believe it is the only strategy that should be used for engaging our students; nor is teacher-led instruction the only way we can encourage our students to be creative or innovate.  Rather than forcing students to make, I think it is up to us as educators to create the conditions to inspire our students to WANT to make.

Screenshot 2016-03-31 at 9.45.24 AM

As a result of so much discussion surrounding this topic, I created and tweeted out a Padlet that asked educators to contribute their ideas for how we can best create the conditions to inspire in our makerspaces.  The Padlet received 30 contributions.  They are as follows:

  1. Use lots of growth mindset read-alouds to model the maker mindset
  2. My makerspace feels like a please-touch museum.
  3. I remind myself 459 times a day to get out of their way. It's like cultivating a flame, it needs air, space, and room to grow.
  4. Through library centers which include creation and technology and research skills centers.
  5. Flexible, collaborative seating/furniture.
  6. Lots of signage and prompts.
  7. I make along side with them. Give them the freedom and voice to teach me. Innovators mindset is key. Mistakes are essential to learning.
  8. Have student maker mentors.
  9. Fantastic Failures. We discuss learning from mistakes and growth mindset.
  10.  All creations are recognized. Pictures are taken of the creations and put in a running slide show on the TV in the room.
  11.  I give parameters and ideas. We follow the design process to help build ideas and focus.
  12.  Open exploration is key – students create and solve their own challenges.
  13.  Messiness is encouraged. Risks are encouraged.
  14.  Use authentic literature as a springboard into all that is possible.
  15.  By inviting experts into our space to serve as inspiration and mentors.
  16.  Allowing them to respond. Sometimes it's important for others to share their experiences so that risks can be taken through their own choice; writing, typing, taking a picture. #studentchoice #studentvoice
  17.  By letting students know that our makerspace is a safe, comfortable, fun place where a kid can be a kid!
  18.  Student collaboration with other schools/makerspaces.
  19.  Show them you care; and you will inspire!
  20.  Let students think about what they will create, explore, take risks and create something different! It's okay to not get it right away!
  22.  Sometimes it's important for others to share their experiences so that risks can be taken.
  23.  My students are learning and struggling through making mistakes, going back and figuring out what went wrong and how to fix it?
  24.  Storing materials in kid-friendly ways.
  25.  Preserve the integrity and understand the value of informal learning.
  26.  Get them to try new things.
  27.  We created a 'Maker Buffet' to allow our 2nd graders to sample each space for week. Then after, they will be able to choose where they want to go to find their passion and create.
  28.  Rather than teacher, consider calling yourself something else, such as 'Dream Consultants' like @techshop.
  29.  Setup, manage and run your makerspace like a startup.
  30.  Ask questions to promote inquiry.

Please contribute to our Padlet to add to this already powerful list of the ways in which we can best inspire our students to engage with our makerspaces and to provide that spark so many of them would benefit from.

Cross posted at worlds-of-learning.com

Laura Fleming has been a classroom teacher and media specialist in grades K-8 and currently is a Library Media Specialist for grades 9-12.   She is a well known writer, speaker and consultant  on next-generation teaching methods and tools, and the author of the best-selling Worlds of Learning:  Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School

comments powered by Disqus

CEV Multimedia Releases Social Media Marketing Curriculum Materials

LUBBOCK, Texas (May 23, 2017) – CEV Multimedia, a lead...

Filtering Ranked Most Important for School Bus Wi-Fi

Kajeet Announces Latest Results from School Bus Survey  

OverDrive Education Summer Read Program Expands in 2017

Thousands of K-12 students in North America will enjoy more free eBook...

MeTEOR Education Sponsors 2017 EdShift Events

One-Day Workshops Shifting the Conversation between Educators, Communi...

Galveston ISD Educator Named Texas 2017 National Distinguished Principal

National K-12 Publisher Mentoring Minds and Long-Time Partner, the&nbs...

Schoology Unveils Session Details and Keynote Lineup for User Conference

NEW YORK (May 18, 2017) – Schoology, the leader in learning mana...

IO Education Expands Leadership Team To Continue Accelerating Growth

IO Education, a market leader in helping educators use data to improve...

T&L Partner Post
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...


(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...


(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...


(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...


(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...


(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...


(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...


(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...


(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...


(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...