The Maker Movement has been making waves throughout the country in schools, libraries and children’s museums, encouraging new generations of inventors. Often defined as environments for making, inventing, tinkering, and creativity, it was a natural fit for the Children’s Museum of South Dakota.
Therefore, we decided to open a studio designed specifically for making. True to the form of our work at the museum, we did a great deal of research, prototyping, and professional development to learn more about the work happening at studios throughout the country. The resulting studio (opening October 2017) has the unique ability to change with children’s interests, but the mission behind the space remains the same.
The Maker Studio is a space where ….
Thinking taps into a child’s own ideas, which is the foundation for their experience in the Maker Studio. With no limits, the simple act of thinking opens the door for endless possibilities. Listening is a key role of facilitators in this space, as it reassures children that their thoughts and ideas are valuable.
Questioning prompts thinking more deeply about ideas. With curiosity-driven experiences, children are behind the wheel in choosing which direction they take. With follow-up and clarification questions, facilitators help children solidify their goal.
Designing helps children organize their thoughts and ideas into a process they can explore. Access to a variety of materials supports children in mapping out their unique pathway to accomplish their goal. Facilitators encourage children to share their plans while supporting them to move forward confidently in their next steps.
Making transforms thoughts into actions. As children choose materials and start making, their thinking becomes something tangible they can mold and develop in their own hands.
Struggling challenges children to take risks, face problems head-on, and learn that mistakes are proof you’re trying. Our Maker Studio is designed for problem-based learning which ultimately supports the development of both problem-solving skills and innovative thinking.
Collaborating encourages children to share ideas, work together, and see things from others’ perspectives. With a variety of spaces designed for small group work, collaboration is an ever-present opportunity.
Testing moves thinking forward while learning new skills. Our Maker Studio is a safe environment full of rich materials children can experiment with. Our hands-on approach to learning puts us alongside children, supporting them along their pathway to success.
Reflecting turns thinking into learning and empowers children as stakeholders in the process. With our strong image of the child, we strive to provide experiences that support all in believing children are both competent and capable in their own learning.
Sharing is crucial to the learning experience. Facilitators help children outwardly show their discoveries and accomplishments through documentation and storytelling. This process of sharing and making learning visible further develops children’s confidence in their abilities.
Studies consistently show that children’s motivation in their own learning increases when they engage in problem-based learning. Activities in this space will be flexible, with the ability to evolve and change along with its occupants. Above all we want children to know that this is a space built for them. And like children, it will grow and develop through time with each experience it encounters.