Makerspaces Make a Difference

October 13, 2017 Alex Fleck

Jamie Evans: Vice Principal and Teacher Librarian

Our grade 3–5 girls wanted a winter club that allowed them to build and construct, so we decided to create the Makerspace Girls Club! This is an extra​curricular club that focused on coding, constructing with recyclables, and problem based learning opportunities. This club was offered in order to promote engagement, peer relationships, and enthusiasm about the projects. Students were encouraged to sign-up if they were interested, and to take home a permission form so that they could discuss participating with their parents, since they would need to stay for lunch. The response was overwhelming! We quickly realized that there was an opportunity to engage small groups in this learning, and that we could begin to organize these groups to help promote new friendships.

Girls Group One constructed an oversized marble run so that they could program a Sphero to navigate the course. These girls had a basic overview of the task and piles of recycled materials.  From there they were on their way. The girls first tested how wide to make their tubes. They quickly realized they needed to cut the tubes open to add more construction paper to make them big enough, and then started to determine how tight the corners could be. They worked through how to change elevations, how quick the speed needed to be on the Sphero, and what to do when things didn’t work out. The giggles and celebrations when they solved each problem totally made the time well worth it!

Girls Group Two used Scratch and Makey Makeys to create games. These girls didn’t want any guidance… they grabbed the boxes of supplies, paired up, and logged on. Using examples from blogs, websites, and YouTube, they created a variety of games. One of the girls, partway through an afternoon, broke the silence when she yelled out “I can totally do this when I’m an adult!” It was truly a highlight moment for me to see these girls feeling so empowered and successful!

Girls Group Three used Ozobots to map out power grids for their communities. They were given the instructions, and the Ozobot. From there they practiced creating the code and designing their communities. Each pair of girls worked diligently figuring out how to ensure power reached each building in their community. At one point, one group of girls figured out that the codes worked backward and forward. This discovery led to a bunch of quick changes, as they all started to make “patches” in their lines so that they could have the Ozobots perform tricks. These girls were constantly sharing ideas, supporting each other, and celebrating each time they had something work. It was so motivating to see the team work and encouragement!

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Jamie Evans is a half-time vice principal and a half-time teacher librarian at a dual track French Immersion and English school in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She's also the Information Communication Technologist for the school, which provides her the opportunity for professional learning in new technologies.
To find ways to explore coding and making skills for your students, check out Microsoft MakeCode. To find resources and PD courses, and to connect with our passionate network of educators, visit the Microsoft Educator Community. Find tools and devices to support your teaching at microsoft.ca/education.

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