by Cathy Collins
The idea of collaborative learning spaces for creative activity has gathered a great deal of momentum in education recently. The makerspace movement is being embraced by the arts as well as the sciences, and energy is building around multidisciplinary collaborative efforts and STEAM topics. A makerspace is a physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, collaborate and create. Makerspaces provide tools, resources and space in a community environment.
The MassCUE Makerspace SIG blossomed last Spring, and is a highly active SIG with over 50 members. In addition to monthly meetings through Google Hangouts, we schedule field trips to area makerspaces housed in both public and school libraries; and host guest speakers who are experts in the makerspace arena.
Last Spring, we kicked off activities at the Sharon High School Library. Diana Rendina, ISTE Librarian Network award winner and library makerspace designer at the middle school level, shared her makerspace journey with us through Skype from her home base of Tampa, Florida. Guest speakers from HUB Technical Services also joined us to share about grant opportunities for 3D printers and Sprout computers.
This Fall, Jessica Ross, from Harvard University’s “Project Zero,” shared her thoughts about makerspace philosophy, creation of a makerspace culture, and resources to inspire inquiry-based thinking.
Winter activities included guest speaker Sue Cusack from Lesley University, who shared her makerspace philosophy, offered valuable resources and strategies for success, and devoted time to answering our questions about the planning and implementation of effective makerspaces.
Most recently, Laura Fleming, library media specialist in New Jersey for 17 years and author of “Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School,” shared her makerspace philosophy, strategies for enlisting staff and student support, and resources for planning, set up and showcasing of student makerspace projects. Laura will be our guest speaker for a second virtual chat on April 7th at 7:00 p.m. MassCUE members and MSLA members are welcome to attend at no charge. E-mail Cathy Collins, MassCUE Makerspace SIG co-leader, at firstname.lastname@example.org  to sign up for the session.
Field trip visits have also included a tour of Peabody Institute’s inspiring Creativity Lab which offers an impressive array of makerspace programming from fictional character costume design to 3D printing, poster making and graphic design workshops.
On March 22nd, we will visit Dartmouth Middle School’s library makerspace from 3:30- 5:30, to learn from students in Laura Gardner’s Maker Club who will be on hand to share their projects and enthusiasm with us.
About the Author: Cathy Collins is the MassCUE Professional Development Chair and the Co-Leader of the MassCUE Makerspace Special Interest Group (SIG).