The Parish School Blog

Makerspace Is Hub for Creative Learning and Exploration

Written by Amanda Arnold
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With a greater shift toward 21st century skills and inquiry/project-based learning campus-wide, the Schissler Library at The Parish School expanded last year to include a makerspace. Makerspaces are creative, DIY spaces where students may gather to create, invent and learn, and are popping up in many school libraries.

We know that children learn best when they are actively engaged in a subject beyond just listening and following directions. The makerspace is where students can learn by doing. Students hone creative and critical thinking skills by studying something for weeks or months, adapting to where their explorations take them and learning from their peers.

As in most makerspaces, the emphasis is on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). You will find bins of raw materials like cardboard, tape and string to build contraptions; electronics like iPads, simple robots, or circuitry kits; and tools for exploring simple machines or taking apart an appliance to see how it works. The makerspace is part of The Parish School’s greater library lab program. According to librarian, Jill Wood, there are three sections of the library to find answers to questions, explore and play: the book section, the computer lab and the makerspace.

“Each area has different strengths and when you use all three, you get the best possible answers, adventures and fun,” said Jill.

This past year, lower elementary students decided to learn more about the library pet, “Rainbow,” a Madagascar hissing cockroach. They read books about cockroaches from the book section of the library, watched videos and live webcams in the computer lab, and had an entomologist visit to answer questions. In the makerspace, students used an app called Chatterbox to  animate Rainbow and explain what she needs in her habitat. They also built mazes out of pizza boxes, straws and tape to observe the cockroaches moving through obstacles.

Elementary students have scheduled visits to the makerspace once a week but may also schedule additional visits with Jill.

Other makerspace projects completed this year include making art bots from electric toothbrushes, creating balloon-powered cars from a water bottle, and taking apart laptops to find out what’s inside.


student looking at cockroach library pet in makerspace