Makerspaces and Modern Learning
By: Jordan Sims
Tate Haraway explores the uses of virtual spaces for classrooms.
Clemson’s Watt Family Innovation Center is home to the Clemson Makerspace, a student created innovation space. The technology in the Makerspace gives students the opportunity to make their ideas come to life. The Makerspaces and Modern Learning Creative Inquiry project, led by Dr. Ryan Visser in the Department of Education and Human Development and Nate Newsome, Research Associate, in the Watt Family Innovation Center, is establishing the best practices for K-12 schools to develop and integrate makerspaces into their students’ education.
A gift from the Sharp Foundation allowed this Creative Inquiry team to collaborate with The Steward School in Richmond, Virginia on a project of mutual interest—student innovation. Like the Watt Center, The Steward School is home to its own innovation space—the Bryan Innovation Laboratory, a space built to provide students with the opportunity to become better thinkers, innovators and problem solvers. The team used the school’s innovation lab to identify needs in a K-12 makerspace and provide guidance as to the best uses of these spaces in K-12 schools.
The project’s goal was to implement and establish best practices for three technologies at The Steward School: augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR); computational thinking and coding robots; and 3D printing. The Creative Inquiry team met weekly, via ZOOM™, with teachers and student clubs that support each technology at The Steward School. Meeting with the Clemson team empowered the Steward students to pursue their own interests and dreams with the technology provided in the lab. “It’s always nice to see students taking initiative and being very passionate and motivated about something they can make an impact on, and it’s going to help them in the future in leadership, building that skill, learning to make connections,” Yan-Jian Ni, a senior mechanical engineering major, said.
The Creative Inquiry team enjoyed working with the teachers, too. Visser hopes the project is a catalyst that encourages the teachers to further develop their skills and implement more new technologies into their classrooms. “We want to teach them the questions to ask, the process that goes into the purchasing of the equipment. It’s not just going out and getting what’s shiniest and newest. It’s really considering your needs, the school’s needs that is, and the students’ needs,” Visser said. Not only is this project empowering K-12 students to take initiative in their education, it’s providing teachers with the resources necessary to build the spaces to do so.
A CI student demonstrates how to use VR controllers to students at Steward School in Richmond, VA.
“The Creative Inquiry program at Clemson is exactly what I was seeking while I was a student 25 years ago. A program that allows the mind to explore subject matter for which there is a natural inclination. But mostly, it is a safe place to fail. Notably in traditional academia where letter grades apply, versus merit for creativity and innovation. ”
The Sharp Foundation is excited to be a supporter of this program with the idea of bringing the program to middle and high school students.
Barbara J. Speziale