September was an exciting start to the school year at Deane-Porter School, with new initiatives igniting students’ interests and creating new learning possibilities. The Makerspace has been abuzz with creativity. This unique learning space encourages tinkering and play, and cultivates open-ended exploration while stretching problem-solving abilities.
When you walk into the space, it is inspiring to watch the students engage in active learning, uncovering their talents and interests by designing, solving, collaborating, and thinking. “Our kindergarteners through third graders are being taught how to use the engineering design process to create prototypes,” stated Ms. Waters.
Mr. Panas explained, “All students have been given a design challenge to design a new and unique way to get to school. It is based on the story “How Will I Get to School This Year,” by Jerry Pallotta. To complete the challenge, students must meet a certain criteria and use the engineering design process: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve. We are fostering and igniting the ‘innovator’s mindset’ by encouraging critical thinking and inspiring creativity.”
There are a variety of materials for students to use to bring their design to life. It is fascinating to listen to the students collaborate and their thought processes with one another in choosing what will best work for their prototype. Students problem solve and change their design when necessary. Students who may have not shown their leadership skills prior are evolving into leaders. A big bonus to this type of learning is that while the students interact with their peers, they are indirectly building their social skills.