Stimulating Creativity in a Maker Space

Collaboration, creativity, innovation, Maker Movement, MakerEd, MakerSpace, STEM

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Our first Next Generation Classrooms teacher professional development of the year was focused on creativity. These teachers have one to one iPads in their classrooms, flexible learning spaces including multiple collaborative work spaces and focus on including 21st century skills as part of their curriculum.

Through my work in the MAET program at MSU, I have grown an interest in the Maker Movement and its implications in education. We were offered an opportunity to work on a 20% time project as part of our work in Saline so I have chosen to work on creating a Maker Space in our fourth and fifth grade building. In order to prepare for that project, I toured a Maker Space operating in Ann Arbor called Maker Works. I thought it was an inspiring space with tools that made you really think about all of the elements that go into creating a product.

Our director of tech toured the space shortly after and loved the idea of holding our Next Gen training there! The rest of the design was up to the Maker Works team and they did a fantastic job designing a fun, engaging and out of the box creative experience for our teachers.

IMG_1498The teachers first got a tour of the facility which is much bigger than it appears! They toured the circuitry room, the collaboration room, the woodworking shop, the metalworking shop and the crafting room. The group learned a little about the company and the space and its emphasis on providing a space for anyone to come and make. They talked a lot about the awesome collaboration amongst all ages that they see there as people learn and help each other with creative projects.

Then, the teachers were introduced to their creative challenge. The teachers had to save the world by creating a superhero identity. They designed a superpower and superhero name. They designed an emblem to go with that superhero and gave the superhero a back story.

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Assisted by a Maker Works helper, the teachers transformed their sketched emblem designs into CorelDraw on the computer. The designs then were sent to a vinyl cutter which our superintendent and assistant superintendent of curriculum helped to set up! The teachers printed and then cut out their vinyl design, placed them on a t-shirt and then heat pressed them onto the t-shirt. Pretty awesome!

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From there, teachers used the laser cutter to cut superhero masks and then decorate using an assortment of materials. The teachers could then cut and sew a cape to attach to their t-shirt.

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Our tech director also put together an awesome creativity stimulator for these teachers that they were given the night before the training. What a great way to get them in the mood for some training! She included some purposeful items like vanilla coffee as vanilla is a proven creativity booster. She included Sir Ken Robinson’s book Out of Our Minds– which I am now currently reading!IMG_1470IMG_1473We ran out of time to reflect as a group on our experience but followed up with an e-mail with some ideas to self-reflect on their creative experience. We also included the K-2, 3-6 and 7-12 creativity rubrics that we want teachers to start incorporating with their students to better evaluate the creativity skills that their students are gaining in their experience as a Next Generation student.

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