In STEAM subjects, investigation and experimentation are an important part of learning, building confidence and inquisitiveness. Practical experience is already proven to have greater learning outcomes and better retention amongst students than structured teaching and lecture models, bringing the theoretical to life.
Teaching and learning through STEAM activities can take many formats, but all serve as a gathering point for tools, projects, mentors, and expertise. Activities can be personalised to any project that involves group collaboration – from coding and robotics to woodworking and art projects to science and engineering experiments.
In the school environment, Gratnells believes the goal of a maker space or STEAM club is to empower students to see themselves as inventors, builders and creators. This allows the learning of new skills through trial and error by experiencing failure, exploring alternatives and problem-solving to improve on ideas and most importantly by promoting collaborative learning.
The company’s latest MakerSpace trolley, launched in 2018, was designed to promote collaborative learning. Developed and manufactured by Gratnells at its production plant in Harlow, Essex, the trolley fulfils the growing trend to expand science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects to include the arts, giving rise to a focus on STEAM learning.
Here are some top tips for a successful maker space:-
Make it a collaborative space
Give space over to making, learning, exploration and sharing in a non-judgmental peer-to-peer environment
Adapt your maker space
Plan ahead and remember to use maker spaces for the whole STEAM spectrum. Maker spaces can be adapted to cover hightech to no-tech. Think robotics and coding to early years art projects and everything in between.
Focus on student centred enquiry. Give space for students to see themselves as inventors, builders and creators. Promote the learning of new skills by allowing students to experience failure, explore alternatives and problem solve to improve on ideas.
Invest in practical
Practical, mobile maker space furniture is easy to move and use in any environment. STEAM classes are not constrained to a lab or teaching workshop.
Benefit from a tidy working area
Teacher and technician feedback suggest students like selecting their own resources, returning unused items and keeping their kit organised.
Improve learning outcomes
Bringing the theoretical to life through practical experience can help with better retention.
Students can work in mixed skill groups with each making a positive contribution both learning and sharing experiences with their peers.
Use maker spaces to stimulate
Stimulated by their maker space experiences, students may be more likely to visit maker faires, museums and STEAM focused exhibitions where they can get hands-on and stretch their learnings even further. These experiences develop Science Capital and form the building blocks that inform future education and career choices.
Richard Picking, International Marketing Director at Gratnells, is an avid supporter of collaborative learning, saying “Just as an organisation needs to be organised, so it is with a maker space and the right choice of fixed and mobile storage options are an important part of getting it right.
Students perform better when they take ownership of their own maker space, selecting their own resources, returning unused items and keeping their kit organised. For the teacher, it’s a win-win as self-service resources reduce set up and take down time, leaving more time for teaching and learning.”
Gratnells is now building on the success of its award-winning MakerSpace trolley by developing a suite of new maker products like the MakerHub, a combined storage and collaboration space, to support STEAM learning and collaborative ways of working.