The Makerspace Mindset
The first step to creating your makerspace or rejuvenating an existing makerspace should be getting the mindset right. Makerspaces are all about hands-on learning, creativity, and technology. No matter their size and regardless of the resources they host, makerspaces provide students with an environment where they can explore, experiment, and innovate.
Running both a school library and an Innovation Precinct, supporting creative thinking, prototyping and product making, means I am always on the lookout for new educational resources to engage my students. When I was offered the chance to try Spintronics, I jumped at it. I am a massive fan of the Turing Tumbles, which are made by the same creators of the Spintronics.
There is lots to love about Spintronics, so let’s beak it down.
Badge Making in the School Library
This term we launched our new Create program. Part of our Connect, Coach, Create initiative, Create is all about getting students hands on with their learning and exploring in the school library. Think makerspace, craft, baking, anything that gets students, staff and our school community, well…, creating.
Our first Create event was badge making. I wanted to start with something fairly easy (and not too messy). With our current, temporary space that is fairly limited, I knew the activity also needed to be easy to set-up and pack-up.
Turing Tumble Review
I had seen the Turing Tumble on Twitter before and I was intrigued but didn’t investigate further until our library purchased 6 to use in our makerspace. I took one home over the school holidays to build, learn and play. Here’s what I discovered.
What is the Turing Tumble?
Designed from Alan Turing’s Turing Machine, the Turing Tumble is a computer. Using switches and marbles you can actually build a mechanical computer and solve problems, and run calculations. It also lets you see how a computer codes. You are coding and learning about computers at the same time.
You can find a lot more information, videos, background story, Kickstarter campaign and how-tos on the Turing Tumble website, so I won’t duplicate that here.
5 Quick Ideas for Integrating Robots with Books
Currently, our library makerspace has two robots – The Ozobot and Cubelets. Click on the links for reviews of each. One day a week, our library makerspace goes technical and these robots delight and challenge our students. This year, our focus has been to integrate the library makerspace activities with literature. So here are 5 quick ideas for integrating robots with literature.
We are always on the lookout for new technology to add to our library makerspace and, thanks to a generous gift from our school’s Parents and Friends fund raising group, we were able to make a significant purchase of new robotics. After much research I choose to request the purchase of Cubelets from Modular Robotics. Have you seen these super cute modular robots? The tactile and seamless design of these robots was the first thing to catch my attention. And the students agree. “Ohhh, pretty” is the usual first reaction, along with a quick grab to study these cube-shaped robots. So, let’s take a deeper look at these robots, their use in our makerspace and our reaction.
Ozobot Neighbourhood Activity
A year ago, we introduced the Ozobot Bit to the library makerspace. Since then we have used this cute little robot to introduce coding to our students through a range of activities.
The latest activity has been building Ozobot a neighbourhood. This activity incorporates the standard coding using white paper and black, blue, green and red markers to create simple codes, as well as net construction and art. It truly combines both the T and A in STEAM.
Ozobot Activity Ideas
Since introducing our Ozobot Bit to the library I have been trying to come up with fresh ideas for interacting with the little robot during our lunchtime sessions. Here are a few ideas I have tried so far. I would love to hear about your own ideas, so please leave them in the comment section below.
Races – this requires multiple Ozobots or a stop watch to record time trials. Students design their own course. To make it harder, set code limits or requirements, e.g. must use at least three different speed codes.
If I Were A Wizard – Paul Hamilton – EdTech Team Press – Published 1 November 2016
While his fellow classmates dream of becoming football players, architects, and doctors, Ralph wants to be a wizard. With his magic, he would help his friends and family members—and even make the world a better place!
If I Were A Wizard introduces coding concepts through the enchanting imagination of a young boy. From Repeats and Loops to Algorithms, If I Were a Wizard prompts discussion and helps build conceptual understanding of coding.
If I Were A Wizard introduces the concepts of coding to children (and adults) in this imaginative picture book.
When Ralph’s teacher asks the class what they want to be when they grow up, there is the predictable reply of football player and doctor and architect. But Ralph wants to be a wizard. When his teacher asks why, Ralph explains all the ways in which he could help his family with his magic.
This book can be read as a simple but lovely story about a little boy who wants to help people, but cleverly hidden are the basic coding concepts. For example, when Ralph explains that he wants to make ten perfect waves for his father, this introduces the concepts of repeats and loops, and when he wants to help his grandfather retrace his steps to find his glasses this introduces sequence and order. Luckily for those of us who might be a little unsure about these concepts, they are all included in a glossary at the end of the book, which links the page to the concepts and provides an explanation.
What can you do with a robot?
“What is that? What does it do?” Both are questions often asked since the library introduced its first robot, Ozobot Bit. The answer? “This is an Ozobot. As to what it can do, well, that is entirely up to you.” There are many articles, research papers, blog posts, and reviews citing the benefits of introducing technology into library spaces. But it is not until you see for yourself the wonder, excitement, and challenge these robots bring to students’ faces that the promise of what technology can offer really takes shape.
I was fortunate to win an Ozobot at an augmented libraries conference I attended recently. Since introducing Ozobot to the students, a mere two weeks ago, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic.