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School Libraries Becomes Spaces to Create

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Libraries are being reimagined in the district with the adoption of the Makerspace movement to provide students with new opportunities for hands-on discovery.

Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School library Timothy Quinn has introduced a variety of high-tech and low-tech resources that stimulate creativity and support the development of problem-solving abilities. Fiddlestix is a 104-piece building kit of wooden sticks and circular connectors. Little Bits allow students to explore circuitry by putting different elements together to produce light and sound.

Mr. Quinn said that one popular resource is Makey Makey, in which students connect wires between a computer and ordinary objects to make music. They played the piano from scallions and the bongo drums using bananas. 

Makerspace at Park Avenue is based on the UTEC model — using, tinkering, experimenting and creating. Mr. Quinn said his STREAM team, a group of fifth and sixth grade students, used the resources first to help him identify ways to best incorporate them into the library curriculum.

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “The Makerspace program is only going to get better because the possibilities are endless. We’re trying to build this space to so students can create something from nothing.”

Northeast Elementary School librarian Tina Smith recently debuted the Makerspace program for kindergartners. She has dedicated a corner of the library to the initiative and filled it with different building materials.

Ms. Smith’s approach to Makerspace is to have students participate in literacy-based, team-building challenges. Recently, kindergartners used recycled materials to build boats that could float in a tub of water. Before constructing, they explored scientific concepts including buoyancy and gravity. 

The idea came from a page that features a beach scene in the Debbie Clement book, “Red, White and Blue.” Although the book features illustrations representing locations all over America, Ms. Smith that page stood out to her because of Amityville’s proximity to the water. 

At Northeast, the Makerspace philosophy is “try and try again,” and Ms. Smith said that mistakes are just a normal part of the learning process. While she has facilitated the first few projects, students will have more independence in completing the challenges once they become familiar with the Makerspace expectations and materials.  

“I would like students to experience their learning, to ask questions, to try,” she said. “I want to encourage them to think, play and create and come up with a lot of different solutions to solve problems.”
Monday, December 09, 2019