Collaborative working in STEAM and maker spaces
The current rise in popularity of robotics, coding and programming in STEAM activities is a sign of the times. Technology is moving fast and in the digital age we live in, the coding, robotics and indeed AI industries are becoming hugely important future employers for the students of today.
The industry, quite obviously, sits on the T of the STEAM spectrum but it is an industry encompassing the whole spectrum of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. The programmer, the product developer and the packaging designer could all have benefitted from a broad STEAM education. These are individual functions with their own areas of expertise but they must cross over, interlock and be collaborative.
The teaching of STEAM based subjects in a maker space environment fosters this sort of collaborative working and will stand students in good stead in their future career choices. Just as in any organisation, in a maker space environment, students with different abilities come together to think, solve, create and see projects through to completion. The collaborative way of working on a peer-to-peer level mimics real work situations.
Just as an organisation needs to be organised, so it is with a maker space and the right choice of fixed and mobile storage options are an important part of getting it right. Students perform better when they take ownership of their own maker space, selecting their own resources, returning unused items and keeping their kit organised. For the teacher, it’s a win-win as self-service resources reduce set up and take down time, leaving more time for teaching and learning.
Furniture and storage choices may all seem a long way from AI and coding but leaders in this area, developing products and activities with STEAM in mind are also recognising the importance of the physical side of maker spaces. In a recent collaboration, Gratnells donated several maker products to the Institute of Imagination in London. Here, they run daily maker workshops for a range of age groups so activities are planned ahead and organised into Gratnells trays. When needed, these trays a loaded into the award-winning MakerSpace and the recently launched MakerHub trolleys to create collaborative, mobile work spaces that can be taken anywhere in the building. This type of maker furniture and storage totally mirrors the flexible and collaborative nature of maker spaces.
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