Knitting & Sewing

Student-led Makerspace new feature at LC Public School

Grade 1 student Essance Abotossaway attempts to use only paper and tape to build a chair that is stable and can support a stuffed owl. photo by Melissa Volpini

LITTLE CURRENT—Little Current Public School (LCPS) has received funding from the Teacher Learning and Leadership Program (TLLP), a joint program from the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and Ontario Teacher Federation (OTF), to create a Makerspace at the school.

“A Makerspace is a student driven, hands on and interactive place for learning,” explained LCPS Grade 8 teacher April Aelick. “It includes everything from robotics to movie making, wood work, 3D printing and crafts.”

The LCPS Makerspace is headed up by a group of teachers including Robyn Charbonneau, Grade 1/2 teacher Melissa Volpini, vice principal Heather Pennie and Ms. Aelick.

The team is currently working on transitioning the library into a shared space with both the library, computer lab and Makerspace.

“In December we submitted a proposal for $39,000 to the (Rainbow District School) board, who chose to send our proposal on to the Teacher Learning and Leadership Program,” said Ms. Aelick. “Ours was one of two selected, with the other being from Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS), which is pretty neat.”

Both LCPS and MSS were successful in their proposals and received funding for their projects.

Ms. Volpini told The Expositor that a major component of the program is sharing the development and learning journey with other teachers in the school, RDSB and beyond.

As their prime sharing tool, the teachers have developed a blog chronicling the process of developing the Makerspace, LCPSmakers.blogspot.ca and a twitter account @LCPSTLLP.

“We had a maker day in our classrooms recently to build the excitement for the new space (which will be launched this fall),” said Ms. Aelick. “The students really enjoyed it.”

“I’ve never seen my students so engaged,” added Ms. Charbonneau.

Some of the plans for the new Makerspace include a green screen for movie making, a 3D printer, an epic ‘Lego wall,’ Lego minestorm, and Dot and Dash (primary robots that can be coded).

Dash is a robot that responds to voice, navigating object, dancing and singing. Students can program Dash to create new behaviours.

The LCPS group purchased a DREMEL 3D Idea Builder, which will foster student creativity and allow their imaginations to come alive.

“We also want to introduce leather crafting and beadwork,” said Ms. Pennie, “and we hope to get people in from the surrounding communities to share their knowledge of these crafts. We also want to incorporate knitting, sewing and cooking.”

The space will continue to be developed throughout the summer, with professional development for teachers early next fall to explore the space and learn about combining the curriculum with the activities in the space.

LCPS--Maker-space_

They explained that the Makerspace will be student centered, with learning driven from what they are interested in.

“We want to teach students to make mistakes—that’s where the learning happens,” said Ms. Charbonneau.

“The TLLP is an annual project-based professional learning opportunity for experienced classroom teachers,” explains a release from the MOE. “The program funds proposals from classroom teachers seeking peer leadership roles in curriculum, instructional practice or supporting other teachers. The program has three goals: create and support opportunities for teacher professional learning, foster teacher leadership and facilitate the sharing of exemplary practices with others for the broader benefit of Ontario’s students.”

There will be continued costs with the Makerspace and LCPS is reaching out to the community and community organizations for funding, material donations and local partnerships. To donate call LCPS at 705-368-2932.

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