Pacific School Makerspace to Host Open HouseFeb 21, 2017 05:59PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Photo via Pacific Makerspace
According to organizers, the open house is an effort to promote the success of the STEM-focused Makerspace to educators and parents, and to encourage involvement from parents and community members to volunteer, lead building sessions, or donate materials.
"To me, it’s a way to get people educated about it so that they support the program," said Pacific Makerspace coordinator Cathy Hobart. "You really need to have a STEM lab in the elementary schools, and start these hands-on experiences as early as possible, because kids have already made up their minds about what classes they’re interested in and what they’re good at before 8th grade."
A Makerspace is traditionally a collaborative workspace inside a school – often in libraries – for making, learning, exploring, and sharing ideas that incorporate technology. All of the Manhattan Beach elementary schools offer some form of Makerspace activities, thanks to grants from Chevron and the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation.
Pacific Elementary, however, not only has a separate dedicated Makerspace room, but incorporates its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) lab activities directly into the students' curriculum. The Makerspace is led by volunteers who meet with teachers and the district to ensure that projects are in line with what is currently being taught in regular lessons.
Students visit the Makerspace on alternating weeks (in rotation with the science lab) for curriculum-based projects. Additionally, the space is open to students in Grade 2 and above during lunch.
Recent Makerspace projects have included building paper roller coasters, designing balloon- and rubber band-powered cars, and creating a Rube Goldberg-type contraption to ring a bell in no less than six steps.
"The kids are totally engaged, they are cheering, there's trial and error, there are boys and girls working together... it’s been a great journey to see how these kids are developing," said Hobart. "We're helping them develop that important skill set around hands-on problem solving."
Pacific’s Makerspace is inclusive, personalized, and supports students with diverse learning styles, including GATE and special education students.
While children are welcome to attend the open house, the event will be set up as more of an informational tour and the center will not be offering hands-on projects during those hours.
For more information, visit the Pacific Makerspace web page.