- Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent Pam Moran wants teachers to prepare students for state assessments, but the district’s makerspace philosophy brings a primary focus on preparing them for success in everyday life.
- District Administration reports students begin using technology for basic research in pre-K, going on to harness the power of technology to produce and create solutions in older grades, mastering complex subjects like trigonometry in service of solving problems in their maker quests.
- Students in the district are free and empowered to make decisions about their own learning and interests and teachers are similarly supported when they have ideas about innovation in their classrooms.
Makerspaces have popped up in schools and community centers across the country in recent years as a place for students to explore and create, learning along the way. Rigid years of test prep has prevented a lot of freedom in many classrooms. Giving students the space to try and fail and persevere on their way to creating something takes time, and traditional classroom schedules rarely allow it. But some schools have managed to carve out this time in the regular school day.
The Every Student Succeeds Act’s focus on whole-child education may support further moves in this direction. Students are learning a lot more than the equations necessary to launch a rocket when they troubleshoot the process. The “soft skills” they master in these learning experiences are the ones that might prove most helpful in the long-term.