SmartBrief: Teaching a Maker Mindset through STEM
2 educators from the Park School in Brookline, MA, Megan Bounit and Kimberly Fogarty, share how to create a maker mindset in any environment. At the Park School, their makerspaces have evolved in many ways, but are driven by their shared philosophies around making, design thinking, engineering, coding, and robotics. Megan and Kimberly describe using KIBO robots to bring a maker mindset to STEM lessons.
Regardless of the materials available, you can teach with a maker mindset and instill that mindset in students. Here are four of the concepts that drive everything they do in their making:
1) Solution Diversity – Students should be able to be creative and make choices, even while they’re building the same skills.
2) Bounded Autonomy – Students are constrained by limited materials, but leaving the project open-ended, gives them the freedom to choose how they meet the constraints. Supporting this intersection of bounded autonomy and solution diversity is why they use a robot like KIBO that literally provides a platform for students to build on.
3) SEL Skills Integration – In the makerspace, students learn specific maker skills like how to use tools and equipment, the design thinking process, and how to code, but they also integrate social-emotional learning into the lesson plans. They design their units to intentionally create opportunities for students to collaborate and communicate with one another. They create situations where students will develop self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness, and foster relationship skills and responsible decision-making.
4) Inspiring Reflection – Students are asked to reflect on specific elements: something new they learned, perhaps a challenge they had and what strategies they used to problem solve, what might they change in a design with more time or, is there something about which they still wonder. Reviewing the process reinforces both the specific STEM lesson as well as the elements of the maker mindset that we strive to instill in all our students.
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