Makerspaces are launching at Minnetonka Schools this year! Makerspaces are “are informal places or materials for creative production in art, science, and engineering where students of all ages blend digital and physical technologies to explore ideas, learn technical skills, and create new products” (source). The Minnetonka Foundation has invested in materials and equipment at each of our six elementary schools plus our two middle schools. The Minnetonka Foundation has been raising funds for Minnetonka Schools since 1986 and has an Endowment Fund to support large, long term projects like this. (More about the Foundation) We are excited to get Makerspaces for the students in our schools.
This process actually began a year ago with initial talks and a lot of planning and research. Staff at each site started meeting and brainstorming to decide how and where to begin. Staff who participated in this process included students, parents, teachers, principals, media specialists, design for learning representatives, Tonka Codes building leaders, high potential teachers, middle school STEM teachers, instructional technology coaches and district administrators.
The initial site conversations narrowed down the scope, including the arranging the makerspace by themes: structural, electrical, digital media, robotics/coding, artistic. Each site’s makerspaces will primarily be mobile, with a wheeled storage cart (pictured) or a larger wheeled cabinet for each theme that teachers can check out from the media center for use in their classroom. Since most of our sites are tight on space, this mobile solution was the preferred choice. It will also encourage teachers to embed makerspace activities into their curriculum and have students demonstrate their knowledge in all curricular areas instead of view it as an add on or place students would have to go to experience.
In the spring and over this past summer, staff began researching products available and deciding what to purchase. Teachers also began planning lessons and units for their students using the makerspace materials so these curricular materials would be ready to go for colleagues to get started instead of having to start from scratch. Over the past week before teacher workshops, teachers have been attending makerspace classes to learn more. The Minnetonka Foundation set up all the materials in a showcase room for teachers to explore who have been attending summer trainings.
Minnetonka Makerspaces have been branded as "The Hub" and the carts have been wrapped with this logo as pictured. As part of their duties, two teachers will also work to support the makerspaces, guide the development of the program, provide teachers with professional development, research, and find innovative resources to enhance the program. Expanded Maker Faires are being planned for the coming year as well as other activities that will get our students tinkering, creating, designing, and more. It will be an exciting year!