“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Copyright 2013 by Grand Center Arts Academy in St. Louis, Mo.
The Grand Center Arts Academy (GCAA) Makerspace in St. Louis, Mo., is a drop-in, laboratory-like environment where students design products that serve an authentic purpose. Students choose what they want to make and are mostly self-guided in their creations. Andrew Goodin, facilitator at the GCAA Makerspace, provides an array of low- and high-tech materials for student tinkering. Goodin might use probing or clarifying questions to help students think about their design challenges, but generally, his role is to be a guide on the side—Makerspace learning is student-directed.
The so-called “Maker Movement” is an approach to invention and innovation with a decidedly do-it-yourself ethos. Businesses and institutions are dedicating virtual or real “maker spaces” that are a sort of sandbox for launching and testing ideas. Schools like GCAA are integrating maker culture as a way to engage students in interdisciplinary, creative problem solving.
GCAA consolidated the layout of their library to make room for their Makerspace, which they characterize as a “STEAM room” because it maximizes students’ creative application of STEM concepts in a project-based atmosphere. “Rather than learning a concept first, and then demonstrating their understanding on a test, students in the Makerspace synthesize background knowledge and apply their artistic skills to learn and create,” write GCAA educators.
Learn more about GCAA’s Makerspace by following the Makerspace project’s blog.