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Tuesday , November 13 2018
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Makerspaces Spark Innovation in EPISD Libraries

EPISD’s making the move to Makerspace – the latest in school library initiatives that provide students a collaborative space to learn, explore and create using high-tech tools like 3-D printers.

All 10 EPISD traditional high schools are carving out a makerspace inside their library to offer students a place for hands-on learning. Students can use the tools there to make music, videos, homemade plastic items and much more.

Each library is designing their makerspace based on what they felt would appeal to their students and work well at their campus. Elementary and middle schools also are getting into the makerspace trend, creating an area for innovative with tools for exploration.

“Makerspaces afford students of all ages in our districts schools the opportunity to learn and explore STEM-related activities,” said Armando Loera, library administrator. “Our students will gain hands-on experience in the creation of new things and have the opportunity to think critically and be successful with through trial and error, problem-solving, self-direction and exploration.”

The high school makerspaces feature a 3-D printer and scanner, robotic equipment and other campus-specific tools for creating.

“This set-up helps create a sense of pride and ownership for the space and empowers students to see themselves as builders, creators and inventors,” Loera said. “The makerspaces will be run by the librarian and volunteers will mentor and guide students so that these students become experts and they in turn can teach other students how to use various techniques and technologies.”

Chapin High School’s makerspace offers students a chance to explore music production, video production and drone recording.

“I hope they will follow the advice of Ms. Frizzle from the ‘Magic School Bus’: ‘take chances, make mistakes, get messy,’” said Chapin librarian Pete Biddle. “I want them to not be afraid to learn and make mistakes, to be creative, to have an idea and go with it, to learn new things, to to use professional qality equipment. And last, but not least, have fun learning.”

Biddle is already getting requests from Chapin’s fine arts groups to use the recording studio.

“I’m excited to see what the students will create, and I also can’t wait to learn side-by-side with them,” he said. “Exciting things are coming to the rockin’ Chapin library.”

Librarian Juli Porflit created a makerspace in the Moye Elementary library to give real-world connections to the curriculum.

“It boosts their self-esteem and gives them the confidence to know they are thinkers and can find success at their own pace,” Porflit said. “Since there are only problems presented with no set outcome or finished product, they guide their learning through trial and error.  Students who may not perform in a traditional classroom shine in the makerspace because there is such freedom given.”

Students first research and brainstorm before diving into their project.

“They are set free to explore and create at the end they write about their experience as well as present their final product,” Porflit said. “All kinds of learners can find a place to fit in with a makerspace.”

 Author – Reneé de Santos / Photos A. Chumley & L. Monroy