Teacher education faculty create a makerspace for students
Prior to the recent opening of the Re-Creation Room, a makerspace in the College of Education (COE) on the Statesboro Campus of Georgia Southern University, faculty members from teacher preparation programs Ariel Cornett, Ph.D., Regina McCurdy, Ph.D., and Montana Smithey, Ph.D., were individually collecting materials such as empty milk cartons, paper towel rolls and fabric scraps and temporarily storing the materials in their homes, offices, and even trunks of their vehicles as they implemented their own makerspace activities for their education classes.
The faculty enlisted the help of Kania Greer, Ed.D., coordinator of the COE’s Center for STEM Education, and the makerspace quickly transformed from an idea to a reality. After upcycling old shelving, frames and materials she could find, Greer passionately took on the project and transformed a former computer lab on the third floor (room 3157) of the College of Education classroom building on the Statesboro Campus into a bright, fun makerspace that was fully operational by the start of the fall 2022 semester.
“It’s neat because a lot of people are aware of the maker movement in regards to DIY [do it yourself] such as crafting and home improvement,” explained Cornett. “The pandemic made this even more of a day-to-day reality as we were quarantined in our homes and learning more about how to enhance our living spaces. However, makerspaces have been learning settings in K-12 schools and higher education institutions for a while. The makerspace is distinct from DIY because it provides the opportunity for the creation of a physical artifact representing a concept. You are also taking part in the making with a community of fellow makers, and then, you are sharing that process and final artifact as the concluding stage of the learning process.”
A makerspace may come in many forms, but at its simplest, it includes recyclable materials along with tools that allow makers the opportunity to re-imagine, re-design and re-create projects. Often the goal is a shared learning experience with classmates while building community. The Re-Creation Room, or the “Re-C Room” for short, specializes in providing easily accessible items that could be collected in education settings for project creation.
“A makerspace environment allows us as teachers to utilize students’ existing skills and knowledge,” explained McCurdy. “If all students do is take notes and take tests, not all of their skills are being used or shown off. I like to use this type of environment as a way to help future teachers, by showing them different types of learning and also making sure that all students have access to a space like this.”
When it comes to utilizing maker activities in the classroom, the founding faculty and staff prove that any discipline can get involved. Cornett is a social studies teacher educator. McCurdy is a science teacher educator. Smithey is a math teacher educator, and Greer offers K-20 STEM programming and activities. All four of these individuals have already found the Re-C Room to be of great use for their classes and activities in the first weeks of the semester.
“Makerspaces provide active and high-level engagement,” said Smithey. “Often when it comes to math education, we see passive learners. However, when students can participate in a ‘making’ activity, something as simple as showing what they are learning about teaching math, the level of engagement is almost always 100%. So we are showing our preservice teachers the makerspace as a part of pedagogy, an instructional choice, regardless of the content area you are in.”
Thinking you might want to try out the space, or even donate some materials for the Re-C Room?
“We are hosting open maker days in the Re-C Room where we invite anyone to join us and create,” said Greer. “The next open maker day will be September 13 from 3:30 – 7 p.m., and the theme is Hispanic Heritage Month. We are co-hosting this event with the COE student group Educators of Color.”
Anyone interested in donating items to the Re-C Room can drop off materials to the COE Dean’s Offices, located in University Hall, suite 297 in Savannah or College of Education, suite 1100 in Statesboro.
To reserve the Re-C Room, complete the Statesboro ISRC Lab Request Form here:
Want to see what class is like in the Re-Creation Room? Check this out!
Posted in Faculty Highlights, Student Highlights