The band of pre-historic humans set out on an important mission. Without the sharpest stones securely attached to the ends of their spears, their village might not survive night time visits from animals 10 times their size. Understanding the importance of their mission, they searched the forests and grasslands, finding ideal natural objects for use in defense, hunting, and communication. Elated at their findings, the band returned to their cave for a celebration, recording the history of their success with their new tools on the cave wall.
It’s 2016 and this band is the sixth grade class at the Meadowbrook School. They are learning about pre-historic times and how humans lived in harsh and challenging conditions, using only the natural world around them to survive. To complement their learning and give them the opportunity to feel like those ancient people, the brand new Makerspace at Meadowbrook provides them the materials and time to create their own tools and document their historic mission using cave drawings. Throughout the year, the class will progress through history, using the Makerspace to create tools from each civilization and experiencing the realities, challenges and successes of progress through time.
The fourth grade is also hands-on the Makerspace, experiencing the challenges and satisfaction of creating their own cloth, like many of the immigrants from their own families did when they arrived in the United States. Not only does this give the students exciting projects and new skills to develop, but they are connecting in a physical way to their family’s past, imagining what it must have been like to sit and weave for small amounts of money day after day upon arrival in a foreign land. This entire experience builds skills, teamwork, and the empathy and consideration of others that has always been the Meadowbrook way.
The Makerspace, run by Mrs. Becky Blumenthal, is a new initiative at Meadowbrook designed to give students hands-on experiences that bring their classroom learning to life. Building on long traditions of authentic career experiences like the second grade post office, fourth grade travel agency, and hands-on engineering of windmills in science classes, the Makerspace will encourage students to work as a community, using their creativity and problem solving skills to accomplish complex tasks. There is no “right answer” or grading in the Makerspace, making it a truly open forum for students to bring their most innovative and forward thinking ideas to light.
Even better, the Makerspace is a collaborative effort between students and faculty at Meadowbrook, with the two groups working together to define a unique Makerspace that will fit the needs of Meadowbrook students as individual inventors. Meadowbrook has always been a school of integration, with science, art, and culture intertwined in school-wide efforts to teach students that learning is three dimensional. The Makerspace will take learning to the fourth dimension, providing the students time to explore, create, and learn as bands of survivors on a mission to take learning to the next civilization of progress.
Makerspace materials are being assembled on a continuous basis, so if you have anything that might be useful for making tools, using the tools, creating cloth or using it to make other things (e.g. sewing machines, knitting tools, etc). As the year moves forward, students will reach modern times, with telephones, computers, robots, and technology a primary focus. Technology will be a major component of the Makerspace, so anything you might have will be welcome! See Mrs. Blumenthal after assembly on Fridays to coordinate.