EDET693 Emerging Technologies, with Dr. Lee Graham
Initial Blog Post for Week 4
By Aleta May
A makerspace reflects the learning environment created by constructivist teachers for constructionist learning for their students. There are five qualities and behaviors “for fostering a constructionist learning environment: Keep it brief, relevant, and open; Model the maker mindset; Act like a scientist; Reward curiosity and passion with rigor; and Keep it safe (welcoming, friendly space that is as free as possible from the pressures of time . . . students participate in their own assessment, allowing them to see its value and to gain literacy and autonomy through it” (Flores, 2016, pp. 17-18). Sometimes a constructivist teacher may need to study a concept briefly first before trying it out. An example is given by David Malpica (2016) when using CircuitScribe kits with a conductive ink pen used for creating ink networks; CircuitScribe modules “help students quickly visualize the circuits created by the modules and the ink paths . . . electricity likes to travel through the path of least resistance and that it would travel that way through the ink as well, bypassing the LED module if that’s the easiest” (p. 100). The point of preteaching here is to prevent the high possibility of students damaging nonreusable materials. So there is a balance between teacher-led facilitation and student experimentation. The balance to me is in keeping learning student centered.
Here is a link for viewing more about CircuitScribe:
In San Mateo, California there is a MakerFaire. Since microcontrollers are a big part of making, it is important to make these available to kids. What is a microcontroller? These are computers designed for a variety of applications. The benefit of these small computers is the low cost, leading people in homes to use these as devices for hobbies that are limited only by the imagination, time spent experimenting and individual and/or group willingness to be creative. As stated by Patterson (2016), jumping into using microcontrollers “cold and unassisted” is not advisable without first getting together with people who are knowledgeable about one brand, like Arduino resources, without knowing how this works together with existing equipment at the school.
Patterson’s idea of “bringing something like Hummingbird Robots into class. . . With these kits the idea is to build an interactive robot with cardboard and servos” (Patterson, 2016) is a great example of blending old school with new technology. Although it is ideal to let students come up with their own ideas; as we have read in contructionist learning theories and through the persuasion of teaching students a growth mindset; maybe connecting the known (a cardboard diorama) to enhance the new (like an animated hummingbird robot. Patterson also discussed how this project would connect with using block-based coding; and that learning coding through Scratch and Tynker is the norm for third grade at their school. In elementary school, students could start becoming “microcontroller ready” (Patterson, 2016) in preparation for more sophisticated projects when they get to middle school. This leads me to the next topic for schools, the Maker Movement.
According to the article “ELI: 7 things you should know about makerspaces,” there is a area set up with materials like “Plexiglas bins with arduinos, Legos, Tesla coils, cardboard, rockets, yarn, LED lights, duct tape, batteries, and solar receptors” (Educause, 2013). These makerspaces provide the opportunity for students to get together to share resources, ideas, work on projects individually or together. They can inspire students to experiment, and prototype ideas. Although makerspaces originated as a nonacademic community space, and emphasized community members assisting each other, they can turn into self-directed places to express academic learning. When video is added to the makerspace there is the potential to share projects between schools, which may even collaborate to share ideas. Further potential is that students may create across content areas. Makerspaces encourage students to own their projects.
In the article by Stager (at Scholastic), reference was made to makezine.com. I explored and found a place with multiple project ideas and guides for how to make things. I think ideas from this site can inspire teachers and students to branch off these for their own purposes. I was intrigued by the floating shelf idea at: http://makezine.com/projects/floating-shelves/ Instructions for making these are very clear, but the purpose could be remixed into floating shelves for makerspace storage. Here is an idea that http://makezine.com/projects/ikea-music-table/ can be used to visualize music, teach rhythm, and even turn into musical notes that can be related to fractions.
To summarize, I believe the pedagogy behind a Maker Space is based in Constructivist Learning Theory. Flores (2016) noted that Vygotsky (1978), “introduced the concept of allowing learners to step beyond themselves” and to use each other as a resource to find this ceiling by letting students bump into the wall and then figure out how to get unstuck. The key would be to balance frustration that is productive with asking students leading questions that may get them to think about what to try next instead.
EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Community (2013). Seven things you should know about makerspaces.
CircuitScribe Image Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/electroninks/circuit-scribe-draw-circuits-instantly
CircuitScribe YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0NM1jJbjrM
Cooper, J. (2013, 30 September). Designing a school makerspace. Edutopia. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/designing-a-school-makerspace-jennifer-cooper
Flores, C. (2016). Fostering a constructionist learning environment: The qualities of a maker educator. In P. Blikstein, S. L. Martinez, & H. A. Pang. Meaningful making: Projects and inspirations for fab labs and makerspaces.
Malpica, D. (2016). Learning to debug circuits with circuitscribe. In P. Blikstein, S. L. Martinez, & H. A. Pang. Meaningful making: Projects and inspirations for fab labs and makerspaces.
Patterson, S. (2016). Learning with arduino and microcontrollers #makered by @SamPatue. TeacherCast Educational Blog; My Paperless Classroom. http://www.teachercast.net/2016/03/01/learning-with-arduino-and-microcontrollers/
Stager, G. What’s the maker movement and why should I care? Administrator Magazine. Retrieved 6-5-16 at: http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3758336&nt_id=4&url=http://store.scholastic.com/Books/Hardcovers/Harry-Potter-and-the-Chamber-of-Secrets-The-Illustrated-Edition-Book-2?eml=SSO/aff/20160429/21181/banner/EE/affiliate/////2-247765/&affiliate_id=21181&click_id=1641089310&print=1
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes (14th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Reference found in Malpica article)