If you had walked into one of Ms. Krista Johns’ art classes this past spring, you might have been surprised by what you saw. In one corner, Ms. Johns was showing students how to create a simple circuit with LED lights, so they could then wind the tiny glowing bulbs into their artwork. At a back corner, iPads are set up in stands with a white board and dry erase markers at the base. Younger students create drawings on the white boards, then the Osmo program on the iPad literally brings the sketches to life, so their magic wands and monsters multiply and dance across the screen. There’s also a stop motion animation studio, so students can manipulate physical objects to tell a story, use the iPad to capture one frame at a time, then move the object between frames. When the sequence is played back rapidly, it creates the illusion of movement and tells a story.
The Lower School art room is just one more place acting as a makerspace, or communal area dedicated to creativity in all kinds of disciplines. This year, students JrK – grade 4 fully embraced the maker mentality, or teaching and learning that is focused on student-centered inquiry. As a result, their creativity ran rampant.
“The maker movement has given our Lower School students an avenue to try things in a different way,” said Mrs. Melissa Fox, Interim Assistant Head of Lower School. “They don’t hear, ‘this is what you are building, so you build it this way and it’s done.’ They’re free to dream it and create it and make a mess and possibly fail and try again.”
“We’ve seen a lot of creativity and communication happening, because the kids come up with an idea, then have to figure out how to work together to make it happen. I also think that it helps prepare them for how they will go on and interact with others in the world. ‘How do I share my ideas? How do I listen to others’ ideas? If we both bring forward good ideas, how do we make that work together?’”
One can find maker activities happening in the classroom, Idea Hub, Science Lab, the art room, and on AE Days.