Looking for Ways to Expand
First year off Inventor's Workshop went well but I wanted to allow for more freedom and creativity for students. As I mentioned in a previous post, Inventor's Workshop was supposed to empower students to take their ideas and make them a reality and inspire them to shape the world around them. In its first year, Inventor's Workshop didn't reach that goal because coding required climbing a pretty steep learning curve before the students were truly able to create. I realized that students needed to create in was that they already had some basic skills. Inventor's Workshop was not only to teach techniques on making, but more importantly it was meant to help students realize that they already had the skills to make and to give them some of the creative skills to generate ideas, design solutions, and inspire creativity. While students built their creative skills they would also inevitably learn new building techniques, but this was not the main purpose of the class, but rather a pleasant byproduct.
So in order to expand what Inventor's Workshop was, I needed to find some additional resources. First I realized that I would need some tools. I already had Arduino boards, but now we needed more basic tools. Hammers, wood, glue, tape, saws, all the basics. I wrote a grant proposal to the PTA and explained how these tools could help students be more creative and they could benefit the whole school because they could be share for other programs such as art and drama for set design. The grant was approved and I purchased five cordless multitools (screw gun, jigsaw, sander), an assortment of hand tools (pliers, screwdrivers, utility knives, chisels, hammers), glue, spray paint, tape, tape measures, screws, and nails. We also ended up purchasing two scroll saws and a drill press. Finally, we acquired a 3D printer from another department who did not know what to do with it. We had a good start to a decently equipped makerspace. Now we needed to figure out where to put everything.
When I originally wrote the grant I didn't even know where I would keep all the tools. I also taught science so worst case scenario, everything could stay in my lab. I also thought about setting the "makerspace" up as a "makercart" this way it could be mobile and move to any classroom depending on who wanted to do a project. The final location turned out to be better than I could have ever imagined. The school decided that they needed a space dedicated to making for a new course being offered in high school, Design Technology. When I heard about this space I realized that this would be the prefect location for Inventor's Workshop and we would be able to pool resources with the high school to share tools. I think it is important to say that when I first started pursuing this idea I had no idea what it would be or where it would be located, but that did not stop me. I think sometimes we can all let details get in the way of trying to make something happen. I could have easily said "I would love to expand Inventor's Workshop. I should write a grant for some tools. Oh, but where will this class take place? Forget it." Instead, I picked the most important problem to solve, took action to find a solution, and believed that all the other details would work themselves out. Sometimes the hardest part is taking the first step and once others see that you have got the ball rolling they will be on board and help make things happen.