Barnesville Makes Space for a Makerspace
Posted 08/05/2016 10:55AM

Barnesville has converted a classroom adjacent to the School’s art room into a makerspace where students will tinker, invent, and build using a variety of high- and low-tech tools and materials. The School will use the space to teach “design thinking,” a hands-on approach to problem solving that fosters innovation.

The design thinking framework is based on a three-part process: 1) understand 2) explore 3) materialize.  The design thinking methodology fits well with Barnesville’s cross-curricular approach that encourages students to explore how subjects relate to one another, helping them to make connections that spark inquiry and deepen understanding. Assistant Head of School Vickie Roos says the School’s culture of joy, support, and excellence lends itself to the creative and collaborative atmosphere needed for a makerspace and a design-thinking mindset.

“A makerspace is all about tapping into natural curiosity and creativity to solve problems,” said Mrs. Roos. “Students will decide how they want to approach a given challenge, try that, step back and evaluate what worked and what didn’t, and then try something different. We want students to take risks, problem-solve, and come up with alternative solutions. All of that strengthens critical thinking and builds confidence.”

Mrs. Roos explained that the makerspace will be used to enhance learning across all subject areas. A math class might work on building three dimensional geometric structures. A science class might work on electrical circuits or coding. And, a history class might model ancient cities or create a film about an historical event.  

“You can walk into the makerspace and give kids an open-ended challenge or have a specific goal,” she said. “Students can work individually or in groups. The idea is to get kids to translate abstract thoughts into action. We want them to experience what it is like to build something and to understand that there is room for trial and error.”

At the in-service meeting in August, Mrs. Roos will lead the entire faculty in a makerspace challenge activity and train teachers in design thinking methodology.  

The School first introduced a makerspace at the 2015 Barnesville Basement yard sale to repurpose unsalable items at an activity table for visitors. The new makerspace classroom will continue to repurpose items that might otherwise be cluttering basements or tossed into the landfill. Mrs. Roos will be asking the Barnesville School community to contribute old tools, used household items and office supplies, salvaged computer components, outdated electronics, legos and tinker toys, and other building materials.