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MakerSpaces engage students creatively

ERS supports schools interested in developing MakerSpaces in libraries, classrooms


At the January meeting of the Library Multimedia Network (LMN), over 50 library media technicians from schools throughout Tulare County participated in a morning of making. The meeting’s focus was on introducing MakerSpace activities in the K-12 library. The MakerSpace movement in education has increased in popularity over the past few years. The idea behind the MakerSpace movement is that students have an opportunity to learn through exploration, problem solving, creating, collaborating, designing and articulating their thinking. “MakerSpaces can be small or large areas in the library, a dedicated classroom or a converted computer lab,” explained Debra Lockwood, library media supervisor with TCOE’s Educational Resource Services (ERS). “We’re seeing school and library staff across the country providing room for students to explore computer coding, robotics, 3-D printing, engineering challenges and art projects.”


MakerSpace stations highlighted during the LMN meeting included a mixture of high- and low-tech activities. Participants learned how to code Sphero balls on a tablet with Toni Haines, library media technician from Heritage School, Tulare City School District. They learned how to manipulate LEGO Robotics with Doug Cairns, an instructional technology specialist with the ERS Library. Participants also had the chance to experience coding with Ozobots and Bee Bots, which are available for schools to check out from the ERS Library. Kate Stover, visual and performing arts specialist with ERS, helped bring out participants’ hidden creativity with several unique art projects that were completed in under 30 minutes. Other low-tech maker ideas included engineering challenges using craft sticks, clothespins, binder clips, plastic cups, marbles and paper plates.

“It is a movement akin to Project Based Learning where students acquire a deeper knowledge of a subject, real world problem or challenge through active exploration,” said Ms. Lockwood. “MakerSpace activities can be developed in every curricular area and don’t have to be expensive.”


Schools in the county that are experimenting on a large scale with MakerSpaces include Jim Maples Academy in the Burton School District. The school has two rooms dedicated to the maker philosophy: the Thinker Space, a room where students brainstorm their ideas, and the MakerSpace Lab where those ideas go into production. According to Valarie Seita, district librarian for Visalia Unified, Ridgeview Middle School’s new library was built with the MakerSpace movement in mind and includes an area dedicated to making projects.

Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center (ERCLC) is also engaged with the MakerSpace movement. Daniel Huecker, director of ERCLC, is very supportive of engaging students with “making.” Over the past four years, ERCLC has hosted weekend MakerFaires where students, staff and even parents share their MakerSpace projects and workshops are offered for students and parents. ERCLC is preparing to open a dedicated space for maker classes to all K-12 students during the 2017-18 school year. Whether schools call their spaces “Idea Labs,” “Genius Rooms,” “Design Studios,” “Innovation Labs” or “MakerSpaces,” students are engaged with the learning process in meaningful, hands-on ways. For more information about MakerSpaces in libraries and classrooms, or to check out the Ozobots or Bee Bots, please contact Debra Lockwood at or phone (559) 651-3042.

Photos above:
~ ERS hosted a workshop on MakerSpace activities educators can incorporate into their school libraries.
~ Debra Lockwood, ERS library media supervisor, discusses some of the simple materials that can be used in building a MakerSpace and the resource materials available through the ERS Library.
~ Alpaugh Unified’s Carmen Diaz programs a Bee Bot to navigate a poster.
~ Jeanette Gonsalves-Roach from Lincoln Elementary in Lindsay prepares an Ozobot to follow a course she has drawn. Ozobots and Bee Bots, which are available for checkout through the ERS Library, help students learn about coding.