Maker Space gives future educators the tools to get creative

Maker Space gives future educators the tools to get creative

Virtual reality sets. 3D printers. Drones, robotics and an engraving machine. This isn’t your typical technology classroom. It’s for future educators.

Georgia College’s John H. Lounsbury College of Education recently opened a new Maker Space. It brings multiple new technologies into the hands of teacher candidates to help them educate their students.

New Maker Space opens in the College of Education.
“A Maker Space is a place where people can come together and create things and learn different technologies,” said Dr. Joseph Peters, dean of the College of Education.

“The idea for the Maker Space really came from me visiting some of the schools in Georgia that had a similar space set up,” he said. 

Knowing schools across the state were already bringing technology into the hands of students in such a way, Peters proposed creating a Maker Space in Kilpatrick Hall. The space allows students to create, innovate and find new ways to engage students in their lessons.

 “We had some things to help our teacher candidates like bulletin board papers, tools to cut and a laminating machine,” said Diedra Monroe, administrative assistant in the Department of Professional Learning and Innovation. “But Dr. Peters wanted to go to the next level.”

Diedra Monroe, Bryce Bowen, Micaela Davis, and Savannah Rawdin.
Diedra Monroe, Bryce Bowen, Micaela Davis, and Savannah Rawdin.

At the same time, faculty members Dr. Joanne Previts and Dr. Nancy Mizelle were writing a GREAT (Georgia Residency for Educating Amazing Teachers) Grant proposal. In the end, Georgia College and the Southern Regional Education Board were awarded the funds by the Department of Education.

“We're very fortunate to get a Department of Education Teacher Partnership Grant,” said Peters. “There was a $5.2 million grant that we were awarded to prepare middle grades teachers, and because of that we were able to buy everything you see in the space.”

From there, Monroe worked to purchase the equipment, get it set up and train graduate assistants on how to use the technology.

Davis with the Glowforge.
Davis with the Glowforge.

“The Glowforge will engrave things. For example, we have been engraving on wood, and we made a sign for the Maker Space with this,” said Micaela Davis, middle grades master of education student.

Davis is one of three graduate students who helped Monroe with the set up the space. Together, they worked to learn how to use the tools.

The key is tying what’s created back to the Georgia Standards for Excellence—the framework used to prepare elementary, middle and high school students for success. Graduate students worked to link each piece of equipment to state standards and developed lesson plans student teachers can use. 

“We can use the Glowforge to create different lessons and visuals that go along with it,” said Davis. “For example, you could print out an engraving of different planets. That's a project we're going to hopefully work on soon, and it’s one of the sixth-grade science standards.”

Another tool available in the Maker Space is the Cricut machine, which cuts anything from paper to vinyl or fabric.

“The thing about the Cricut is that it really can play into any standard. Any kind of presentation we're doing from posters to anything that we're trying to make a visual of— the Cricut can be a part of that,” said Savannah Rawdin, early childhood education master of education student. 

For some, it’s about being able to physically hold things. That can help younger students better understand concepts like counting, addition and subtraction.

“I have used the Cricut for creating manipulatives, so sometimes we just need counters really quickly for our kindergarten students or other things when we talk about cardinality,” said Rawdin. 

Bowen works with the 3D printer.
Bowen works with the 3D printer.

Even as students grow and the concepts they learn get more intensive, the act of holding and touching can help with comprehension.

“With these 3D printers, we can make different tools to use in the classroom,” said Bryce Bowen, master of health human performance student. “I've made things like a heart that can be used to teach anatomy. You could give students a handheld version of something that they normally would not be able to put their hands-on, and it can help them understand it better.” 

Hands-on learning for future teachers is important as well. Peters said he hopes students take their experience in the new Maker Space to the schools where they teach.

“Our Maker Space is a little more on the high-end side, because our students are graduating to a 30 to 40-year career,” said Peters. “Schools will start to use more technology in the future, and we want our students to be ahead of the curve on what's going to be next. 

Join the College of Education as they celebrate the grand opening of their new Maker Space Monday, Oct. 11 at 3 p.m. in Room 134 in Kilpatrick Hall.