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        Teaching Today Minnesota | Summer/Back to School 2024                                                                                 Page 15

                  Makerspace Opens Doors to a New World of Creativity

        Richard Rohlf ng, Cleveland Public School  and interests. Students are encouraged to take
            As  a  fourth-grade  teacher,  Kim  Germs-  thoughtful  risks,  persist  in  problem  solving,
        cheid’s focus was instilling in her students her   collaborate with others and engage in hands-
        love of literature and reading.     on  learning  while  developing  21st-century
            But  three  years  ago,  Germscheid  did  a   skills.
        180 when she took on the role of elementary     A  f rst  step  in  encouraging  careers  in
        STEM  educator,  teaching  K-4  science,  tech-  STEM,  learning  in  Makerspace  can  be  high
        nology,  engineering  and  mathematics  labs   tech or low tech.
        and  supervising  the  school’s  “Makerspace,”   Serving the technology-driven end of the
        a room dedicated to self-directed learning and   spectrum, the room is outf tted with a trio of
        play.                               3D printers, a laser engraver, a Cricut (paper
            Germscheid still uses literature in STEM   and sticker cutting) machine with a heat press,
        though.                             robots  for  learning  about  engineering  and
            “Many of our challenges or projects are   motion control, a programmable plastic mouse
        based on books like “Rosie Revere Engineer,”   for teaching basic computer coding concepts,
        “If I Built a School” or “Hidden Figures,” so I   and kits for hands-on working with electronic
        still get to share my love of reading and good   circuits and gears.
        quality literature. I also use several books on   “I had to learn so much in this position,”
        Science  Fair  projects  and  things  to  do  with   Germscheid said.
        recyclables and cardboard.”             On the lower tech side, students use their
            Adjacent  to  the  school’s  media  center,   hands  and  simple  tools—like  scissors  and   a problem solver. Critical thinking, creativity,   like,” said third grader Lucas Baker.
        Makerspace is a room where elementary stu-  markers and paint brushes—to do their proj-  collaboration  and  communication  are  skills   Germscheid’s  fellow  elementary  teach-
        dents discover, invent and problem solve using   ects, some skewing towards the artistic while   kids are going to need for the future, whatever   ers can see how their students love having the
        a variety of materials and machines.   others are designed to be functional.  that may bring. I encourage students to think   time and materials just to explore, build and
            In short: they use the room tinker, some-  Materials on hand include cardboard, bal-  outside of the box, work together and commu-  create.
        thing kids do naturally. They build things; they   loons, popsicle sticks, toothpicks, beads, pipe   nicate clearly.”  Their  observations  are  correct,  Germs-
        take things apart, and they learn by doing it.   cleaners, tape, straws, playdough, clay, coffee   While elementary teachers reserve Mak-  cheid said.
        Makerspace  is  an  environment  to  encourage   f lters,  bottle  caps,  yarn,  construction  paper,   erspace for their students’ self-guided projects,   “This is where the students want to be.
        that process, Germscheid said.      cardboard tubes, recyclables and more. Many   Germscheid also teaches K-4 technology labs   They want to tinker; they want to learn; they
            “It’s project-based learning. It’s play. It’s   of the materials are donated by parents or other   in the same room. Third graders, for example,   want to play.”
        what we used to do. We kind of got away from   community members.       are  currently  learning  TinkerCad,  an  on-line
        that, and now we’re circling back.”     Working in Makerspace embraces failure   program  they  use  to  create  3D  designs  that
            Makerspace is meant to tap into multiple   as  part  of  the  learning  process,  Germscheid   come to life on one of the room’s 3D printers.
        learning styles and intelligences, Germscheid   said.                      “It  teaches  us  designing,  using  your
        said. The lab encourages high student engage-  “A lot of it is fail fast and f gure it out:   imagination,  and  thinking  what  you  really
        ment  and  allows  for  undiscovered  passions   be a creative thinker, work with others and be

        William’s Journey into Engineering and Robotics

        Continued from Page 13

                                                  tions about our process.”         build and program robots for. This year’s   ativity  and  self  expression  that  you  can
                                                      His  teachers  at  BHS  and  the  com-  challenge  involved  picking  up  cones   have through a robot is understated,” said
                                                  munity  volunteer  mentors  for  the  team   and cubes and placing them on poles or   William. “My advice for kids looking for
                                                  all  pushed  Wiliam  to  learn  as  much  as   shelves on the other side of the f eld, as   their passion is to just try stuff! I am for-
                                                  he  could,  try  new  things  and  f nd  the   well as balancing three robots on a sort   tunate to have found robotics pretty early
                                                  best  way  to  solve  the  problem  while   of teeter totter device. The teams compete   on  and  that  the  Pathways  at  BHS  sup-
                                                  still  expressing  creativity.  During  his   in qualifying matches, win ranking points   ported that.”
                                                  senior  year,  the  team  kicked  into  high   and  ultimately  the  top  eight  teams  are   William  is  already  scoping  out  dif-
                                                  gear, ranking number one in the state of   ranked and get to select their robots and   ferent class projects and possible clubs to
                                                  Minnesota, winning two regional tourna-  alliances to compete in a double elimina-  join and plans on volunteering at tourna-
                                                  ments  and  ultimately  advancing  to  the   tion bracket.         ments or becoming a mentor for a team
                                                  2023  FIRST  Robotics  Championship  in   “This  was  my  most  active  year   someday.
                                                  Houston  where  they  ended  up  f nishing   on the team and I did a lot to help out,
                                                  f fth in the world.               learned  about  CAD  work,  worked  on
                                                      It  was  amazing  all  around,”  said   programming,  wiring  and  I  was  one  of
                                                  William. “My big goal this year was to go   the  drivers  of  the  robot,”  said  William.
                                                  to the world championships and we put in   “Programming  is  fun  because  you  can
                                                  a lot of work and built the best robot we   do some really fancy things beyond trig-
                                                  could.  We  did  well  throughout  the  year   gering an action with a button. There are
                                                  and kept going until we ended up in the   ways  to  have  the  motor  change  speeds
                                                  top  eight.  Houston  was  so  surreal  with   based on how far it is from an object or
                                                  stands  full  of  people  watching  us  and   using  cameras  and  vision  software  to
                                                  cheering.”                        track things.”
                                                      Competitions  center  around  dif-  “People don’t always have the best
                                                  ferent  games  and  challenges  that  teams   view of robotics, but the amount of cre-
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