SHS Welcomes Creativity with MakerSpace

By Lily Zhou (Correspondent)

Ms. Cathy Collins and Dr. John Marcus strive to promote creativity throughout the Sharon School District with MakerSpaces.

A MakerSpace is a “physical place where informal collaborative or independent learning can happen through hands-on creation using any combination of cross-disciplinary tools”.  The MakerSpaces in the Sharon School District were started by Ms. Cathy Collins, the SHS librarian, and Dr. John Marcus, the Assistant Superintendent for Information Systems and Administration. Currently there is a 3-D printer, a music synthesizer and many other resources that are available for students to use.

Ms. Collins says that the purpose of MakerSpace is as much about learning how to make things as it is about achieving a final product. “The kind of learning that happens in a MakerSpace is really fun for students because students are following their own interests and passions,” she said.

Collins says that the inspiration came from her work with organizations such as Massachusetts Computer Using Educators (MassCUE) and the Massachusetts School Library Association. “The more I learned from other tech teachers and librarians about the kinds of learning happening in makerspaces, the more I wanted to do something similar in our high school library space, “added Collins.

Collins says that Dr. Marcus is a big part of the creation of MakerSpaces throughout the Sharon School District. “It’s really been a shared vision between myself, Dr. Marcus and the other tech experts across the district,” she said.

Dr. Marcus adds that they are trying to establish more curriculum connections with other classes to provide more opportunities for students to explore their creativity. “Our theater department is really big, really popular and there is a group of students in that theater groups that are into costume design so I’m looking to get some sewing machines in there and some sewing materials so they can pursue that,” said Collins.

Collins says that there are monthly challenges that any student at SHS can participate in. “It’s all about creating products and also problem-solving to figure out how to make something better,” said Collins.

Kaplan says that monthly challenges are something that the Eagle Block Help Desk students are coming up with. “The whole idea is to get the whole school involved in using the MakerSpace and to drive creativity within the building,” he said.

Along with individual projects, Collins says that there are also some classroom based projects in the MakerSpace. “Ms. Konstas’s class is creating a unique character using the 3-D printer, “ she said.

“The other really exciting project that happened earlier this year was Ms. Beebe’s AP Psychology class who came in and created models of neurons using our electronic kits,” added Collins.

Ms. Jean Beebe, a social studies teacher, says that her AP Physchology students built the neurons from nothing. “I think it’s different to use your hands to manipulate objects and engage with the world and I think that that will eventually enhance your understanding of a lot of things.

Senior Josh Kaplan, who helps oversee the MakerSpace, says that creativity is becoming less and less common in the U.S. schooling system. “With something like the MakerSpace, it’s more of a creative thinking type of situation,“ said Kaplan.

The MakerSpace is “kind of like this open-ended area of discovery” where by “providing new tools, resources, materials, and the actual space, students will have lots of extra opportunities to use the library to not only curate ideas but create them as well,” said Marcus.

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