Right up front I want to say that any school that has a Maker Space because that’s what great schools have, is missing the whole idea. I think playing with things and trying out things is really cool. I do. But if we haven’t thought through what we will have in our space then will it truly be a space for all students?

There’s that WE again. When WE are thinking about a maker space, then the first thing to think about is who is this WE we are talking about. WE should include anyone who controls the purse strings for purchasing items. WE should include the students who will be using the space. WE should include parents who might want to be involved in the space. WE should include teachers who might want to encourage students to use the space but also might want to use the space themselves.

Purse String Holders – How much will it cost for the initial purchase of items, for the maintenance of items, and for the replacement of items? If WE haven’t thought about those items then the space won’t be a success.

Student Users – What do the students want to do in the space? And, at the same time, what should be included in the space that the students haven’t even thought of wanting?

Parent Participants – Some parents always want to be involved with the school. Some parents feel that they just don’t have time but they are willing to purchase/collect/make items for the school. What do the parents want for the space? Do they want time when they can use it? Do they have expectations for what happens when their child is in the space? Do they want to volunteer to be in the space so that other adults (from the school) won’t have to be in there?

Teacher Participants – Do the teachers have a certain expectation for what items should be in the space? Do the teachers want to be able to send students to the space at any time, knowing that there will be an adult presence to monitor the kids? Are there other ways the space can be used?

Last year was my first year at my current school. Several times I was told that there were parents who wanted the school to have a maker space. Well, where would this space be? What are the hours of the space? Will there be a requirement that there has to be an adult in the space at all times – or could we have a certification program for our older students who could be in the space during their study hall or after school.

Here are my top dozen questions compiled into one list:

      1. What do the parents want?
      2. Where would the space be located?
      3. Who would monitor students while it is open? 
      4. What would be the hours that the space is open?
      5. Will parents be able to provide items for the space? 
      6. What is the initial budget for materials for the space?
      7. What is the annual budget for materials for the space?
      8. Would there be a certification process for any tools and for general safety?
      9. Will teachers monitor the space? And, if so, when is this going to happen?
    10. Will parents sign up to monitor the space? How does that look from an insurance stand point?
    11. What do the students want (at each level. We’re K-12 2nd graders and 10th graders have different desires) ?
    12. Will students be allowed to leave their classrooms to go to the space to work? If yes, how do we make sure that there aren’t too many students in the space?

And now, for my readers, help me compile a list of materials that should be in a maker space (leave your thoughts in the comments section). Who knows, maybe there’ll be a grant with our school’s name on it and we can get this thing off the ground.  Here’s a general list to whet your whistle –

     A. Legos and a Lego Table, KNEX, Blocks
     B. Basic hand tools (screw drivers, hammers, allen wrenches, adjustable wrenches, pliers)
     C. Yarn and Thread
     D. Tools for knitting, crocheting, sewing
     E. Painting Supplies (But what, exactly???)
     F. Computers/laptops for online access
     G. Rulers, T-Squares, Straight Edges
     H. Paper of various types
     I. Nails, Screws, Bolts
     J. Circuitry and wire
     K. Various types of tapes and glues
     L. Storage Containers and Shelves
     M.Craft supplies (Popsicle sticks, tooth picks, material, card stock, cotton balls etc.)

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