Since our exploration of the makerspace concept has been a huge success and the students were asking for more tinkering activities, Earth Day seemed like a great opportunity to link makerspace activities to conservation. Makerspaces in schools are stocked with various supplies and materials for students to use to invent. With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to invite students to bring in recyclables and items destined for the garbage to use to create. Students would learn how to reuse materials to produce novel things, combining conservation with innovation.
I shared our plan with Laura McDonell, a middle school teacher whose class has been collaborating with my class on Genius Hour projects and makerspace activities. She sent me a list of makerspace ideas generated by her students to use for our Earth Day projects, and we were ready to celebrate Earth Day in a fun, creative way.
On Earth Day, I printed the makerspace ideas on slips of paper and readied a table for the students’ “trash”. After the children arrived, I partnered them and told the pairs to choose an item to create. Then, they could pick six materials from the garbage/recyclable table to use in some way in their inventions. In addition to the selected materials, the students could use any other available material or resource in their construction. They discussed their ideas, planned designs, created prototypes, redesigned and improved their ideas, and tested their inventions. The final projects were clever and forward-thinking in design, and throughout the entire process students were excited and engaged. The students are excited to share their creations in the video posted below! Happy Earth Day, every day!