Every Student and Staff Member a Maker

Perris Union High School District (PUHSD) is an innovative district and is fostering and leading a change in culture in which digital learning and tools are available to help drive improvement. This change can be seen on our campuses in which teachers are transforming education through innovative lesson design and delivery where students are actively engaged in developing critical thinking skills and higher order thinking.

Not only is PUHSD continuing to foster and lead change with access technology/digital tools, our district is providing opportunities for students to have access to hands-on tools; PUHSD is empowering students through Making in Education.

Makerspaces, Hackerspaces, Tinkerspaces, are terms that might be new to many educators. But the educational philosophy behind those terms is not new. Makerspaces and the Maker Movement is about hands-on learning that is project/problem based. Making in education relies on Design Thinking with students following design and engineering principles. Our Makerspaces, hackerspaces, tinkerspaces will be locations where students and staff can come together to design, explore, craft, draft, create, hack, and to grow. “Makers believe that if you can Imagine it, you can make it.”

A Makerspace is a learning environment. These spaces are not traditional classrooms, woodshops, metal shops, and computer labs. Makerspaces are interdisciplinary and tear down the walls of what we knew as shop classes. Traditionally school have funneled or tracked a specific type of student to shop classes. But a Makerspace is for all students. The space needs to have programmatic elements that make it usable but also must be purposely flexible where teachers and mentors can bring students together to imagine, design, and create. The space is for formal and informal learning that can take place during the school day and beyond.

At PUSHD, these spaces will start out with some standard elements. Some of this include the following: the application of slip resistant epoxy flooring, a wall of floor to ceiling whiteboards (Wall Talkers), digital projector, a combination of fixed and mobile furniture and storage, and accessible power and networking.

As each Makerspace on each campus evolve and grow, so will the types of tools needed. At the entry level, some examples of tools needed are the following: glue gun, pop riveter, combination wrench screw drivers, pliers, sanding blocks, clamps, etc. Also at the entry level, Makers need access to consumable materials such as fasteners, glue, batteries, needle, thread, wires, tape, gloves, dust masks and much more. As each Makerspace on each campus grows, so will the supply of tools and consumable materials.

Our young makers are already inventing and creating.  Most projects are worked on collaboratively where students plan, sketch, construct, test, and evaluate their projects.  Whether it’s making a wallet made of duct tape or designing a miniature roller coaster, students are activating skills they never knew they had.  Often times, the greatest learning experience comes from the failure of their projects. Besides receiving a score or a grade, students evaluate their project, fix mistakes, and try again. Success comes from the process of creating and making, not necessarily from finished working projects.

Makerspaces gives students the opportunity to play.  Playing engages the part of the mind that innovates and creates.  These skills go beyond high stakes testing and the simple recall skills that students have grown accustomed to.  By playing and tinkering, students can make up their own goals and answer their own questions.  They will be in charge of their own learning.

We believe every student should be taught to have a “growth mindset” or the belief that their basic abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication.  We do not believe in a “fixed mindset” where individuals are born with a fixed set of skills.  In a fixed mindset, students have been labeled as “smart” or “dumb”.  Every student is capable of developing their skills to their highest potential.  Our Makerspaces will challenge our students to dream and think big ideas.  Then, with hard work, dedication, and a little grit, they will achieve personal success.  By making, testing, failing, re-tinkering, and testing again, students will practice an attitude of resilience.  What they eventually create is not as important as the effect of the making process on their confidence to achieve.  Not just in the Makerspace, but in everyday life.

The Maker Movement is a combination of modern tech tools and good old fashioned hands-on learning. Many, many staff members at PUHSD are excited about the Maker Movement and I want you to share in this exciting development. Our Makerspaces, hackerspaces, tinker spaces will be locations where students and staff can come together to design, explore, craft, draft, create, hack, and to grow. As stated earlier, “makers believe that if you can Imagine it, you can make it.”  PUHSD is embracing the Maker Movement. We want to promote “Every Student a Maker” and in fact we want to promote “Every Staff Member a Maker”.