Maker learning has the power to:
“Increase access, interest, and skills in STEM, particularly for diverse communities;
Promote social and emotional learning by building empathy and perspective taking abilities through user-centered design thinking practice;
Personalize, engage, and facilitate student voice and choice; and
Catalyze interdisciplinary experiences and make curriculum more relevant”
Source: Digital Promise
This year, WEF is focusing our fundraising efforts on an exciting new initiative to build and expand MakerSpaces in Westfield’s elementary and middle schools.
In recent years, WEF has provided funding for MakerSpaces at Tamaques and McKinley elementary schools and Roosevelt Intermediate School. Positive feedback about the MakerSpaces in these schools and staff interest in enhancing existing programs and establishing new ones encouraged the development of this initiative.
What is a MakerSpace?
A MakerSpace is a learning environment where students can design, invent, and create together. Everyday materials along with low- and high-tech tools are used in innovative ways that encourage a deep engagement with content, critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration. MakerSpaces give students of all ages the opportunity to engage in real engineering and design work through hands-on, experiential learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). It also supports project-based learning across all areas of the curriculum and prepares students to solve real-world problems.
What, specifically, are we funding?
This year’s initiative is to establish new MakerSpaces in the schools that do not currently have them, and to expand existing MakerSpaces with new tools and materials.
Additionally, we will make professional development available to all elementary and middle schools to strengthen teachers’ and administrators’ competencies in hands-on, student-driven approaches to learning. Professional development will be led by Digital Promise, a national leader in the Maker Movement, and based on their Maker Learning Leadership Framework. Their workshops, peer networks, and coaching will guide our teachers to better understand maker learning and to actively create plans and materials that will address the specific needs and contexts of each school.
What about Westfield High School?
The MakerSpace initiative dovetails with Westfield High School’s new Innovation Classroom, funded by the Westfield Foundation, which provides a flexible, modern space for exploring engineering and design. Our investment in MakerSpaces at the elementary and middle school levels will create a learning progression for students to prepare them for more sophisticated challenges at the high school level.