Authored by: Nicole Myers, Director – Curriculum and Business Development, Stem Minds Corp.
As the push for makerspaces in schools becomes more and more prevalent, we get a lot of questions about logistics. Well, you’re in luck; getting a makerspace is a lot easier than it sounds and you don’t need a multi-million dollar budget and facility to do it. Here are some answers and advice to 5 questions common questions we get about bringing makerspaces into your school.
- How much is it going to cost?
Given that there are so many misconceptions about what a makerspace should be, it’s no wonder that one of the first questions we get is how much a makerspace is going to cost. When your only vision of a makerspace is a multi-million dollar facility with what seems like endless 3D printers, you’re bound to think you will never have enough money to bring a maker space to your school.
Well, we’re here to tell you that while having a multi-million dollar facility with high end equipment sure is nice, it absolutely is not necessary. In fact, you can spend all the money you want; at the end of the day a makerspace is less about the space and more about the mindset and the community. So, our answer to this question is that a makerspace can cost anywhere from $0 to quite literally millions of dollars. You get to decide how much money you are willing to spend and what materials and equipment you need to support the people who will actually be using it.
- What do I need to buy?
There seems to be a never-ending list of what you should buy for your makerspace and an even longer list of all the different brands and sizes and options.
While we are perfectly happy to give you advice on what brand of equipment is best for you, the honest truth is that you do not “need” to buy anything! As we mentioned before, a makerspace is less about the space and more about the community. If you have a room literally anywhere in this world, empty or full to the brim, it can be a makerspace if you choose. Whether you only have popsicle sticks and glue or if you have the most advanced technology in the world, you can have a makerspace. Both are equally valid and both are great opportunities, especially for kids, to learn and make, but ONLY if you have taken the time to build the community around it.
- What kind of a space do I need? What should it look like?
You do not need to build a whole new building for your makerspace. You do not need to even leave where you are now. If you are creating a community of people who are learning and making, you have a makerspace, whether it’s in the tiniest of broom closets or the next Taj Mahal. We guarantee you that you have a space right now you can turn into a makerspace. An under used classroom, a frequently used classroom, your school library, a corner with a table, the list goes on. As long as you have somewhere, anywhere at all, where people can come together to create and make, you will have a makerspace and it will be awesome.
- What if no one uses it?
Build it and they will come; we guarantee it. BUT you might need to do a little creative marketing. People can’t visit what they don’t know about, after all. Make announcements, hand out invitations, talk to people, do whatever you need to do! Our favourite strategy is to make a really active effort to display and share what you are already making. Made a cool project? Go class to class and show people! Put it on display in the front hall! Stand from the roof tops and yell about it! Either way, don’t be shy. You will love your makerspace and others will, too.
- How can I convince ______ to let us have a makerspace in our school?
There’s no easy answer to this one because the best way to convince people that bringing a makerspace to your school is to tell YOUR story. Sure, you can do your research and bring up a bunch of facts about how makerspaces are good for students and their learning and their brains, but people like stories more than they like facts, so tell yours! What is your dream for this makerspace? How do you see people using it to help their communities? What does it look like, sound like, smell like (yes, we said smell like). Don’t hold back; show your passion and others are sure to get on board, especially when you are able to dispel the myth that makerspaces need to cost an arm and a leg.
We hope you’ve found our advice useful and practical for bringing makerspaces into your school! Have a question that wasn’t answered? Sound off in the comments below and we’ll be sure to get back to you! Stay tuned for next month when we finally reveal our new location!