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"Making Space" for New Learning: A Year of the Makerspace

June 07, 2017
By K. Lowitzki

 

A year of NorthPointe Christian’s Makerspace has seen a positive shift in student learning and curiosity.


Last summer NPC transformed our middle and high school media center into a space that would allow increased hands-on learning by designing and making things.  Increasingly, research demonstrates the need for project-based learning to teach creative, out-of-the-box thinking skills to adequately prepare students for the real world.  Our Makerspace enables teachers to more easily implement this type of learning.  This Makerspace has plenty of tools, materials, and wide open tables and we’ve seen it come alive this year with engaged students.   

Throughout the year, students have pulled apart and then repaired instruments to discover how they work, worked as a team and problem solved to create marble roller coasters, and engaged in science experiments.  Middle school Market Place groups also benefited from the makerspace in developing their businesses.  

Most recently, middle school social studies teacher Jerry Duckworth used the Makerspace for his final exam.  For the final project of his 8th grade class, he implemented a different kind of test.  Mr. Duckworth asked students to choose a meaningful historic topic and create a scene, artifact, or hymn that represented a significant event or person in American history.  He required students to consider the year of study, then plan and produce something that would make visible something of what they learned, and finally present their projects to the class.

NorthPointe eighth graders came up with a range of final projects including Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone, the Washington Monument, the pin-hole camera, and the battle sword of George Washington, to name a few.

Student Grace VandenBerg shared "I really enjoyed our history final project. I learned a lot about Lincoln's assassination, which is what I chose to do my project on. Creating the model really helped me visualize how the event actually happened. I knew a bit about the assassination, but this project pushed me to learn a lot more."

Beyond the created models, students were required to write answers to two questions:  
1.  So What?  “Can you tell me the way this impacted, changed, or played an important role in America’s History?”  and
2.  Now What?  “In what ways is this topic relevant for our life today?”  
Mr. Duckworth weaved these critical thinking questions throughout his teaching all year.  He emphasized not only the facts of history, but invited students to engage in critical thinking skills and consider the impact of history and the way in which it intersects with our Christian worldview and mandates.  

You can bet this is one test students won’t forget the next day!