Barron Park is proud to enter Year Three of its very own Maker Studio: a dedicated space for STEAM Learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) and the first of its kind in the Palo Alto Unified School District. The Barron Park PTA and PiE have funded several of the new components (hardware and software) in this room and continue to do so.
What does a Makerspace mean?
A Makerspace is the generic term for a place where students (or anybody) can make or create objects of their choixe with the resources provided. The Maker movement is not new. Please check http://makered.org for more information. At the Barron Park Maker Studio we have a variety of resources.
Why is Making a crucial component of an elementary school?
We are fifteen years into the twenty first century. All over we hear about twenty first century skills and students needing to be trained for jobs that don’t exist. It is known that almost everyone, not just children learn by doing. Each of us needs to find our passion in some form. The Maker Studio exposes the students to several skills that can develop to passion(s). It enables students to develop basic humane skills such as patience, perseverance, learning to fail and learning through one’s mistakes, building confidence, self esteem, and overall, empathy.
Can I come and check out the Maker Studio?
Visitors are welcome but please e-mail Smita Kolhatkar to ensure that the date and time is convenient. The best way to visit is to volunteer with your student(s)’s class when they are working on a project.
Can I volunteer at the Maker Studio?
Yes, of course! Please e-mail Smita Kolhatkar and let her know the most convenient date and time to volunteer.
What if I don’t know about any of the tools/skills being used at the Maker Studio?
You can still volunteer. You will be trained on how to guide the students. You don’t need to be anywhere near an expert.
How can I contribute to the Maker Studio?
Contributions in cash/check and kind are always welcome. Please write the checks to Barron Park PTA and mark them as For Maker Studio Let the PTA treasurer know. As regards contributions in kind, feel free to donate materials that can be used in the Maker Studio after checking in with Smita Kolhatkar.
What do the teachers have to say about the Maker Studio?
"I love the way technology, crafting, sewing, building, art, engineering and science all meet in this creative and inspiring space!"
"This is a neat opportunity for the kids. They are fortunate to be in Palo Alto! As time passes, and teachers are able to share ideas with each other, we will find more interesting and incredible uses for the room."
"Socio-emotional development: They are able to get together with other grade level students and work collaboratively."
"They are developing their logical thinking by using children friendly codable programs like Kodable. When programming they don’t think they are learning."
"I think having the Maker’s Space is a wonderful addition to the academic curriculum.” “It’s been nice to see students of all levels working together!"
"Learning new technology, working as a team, sharing, creative thinking. One girl even commented at the beginning of the year that every was so nice there… it was the same kids in our own class!"
"I’ve observed high engagement, and self efficacy from students engaged in activities there."
"It is amazing to see what the students create when they have the freedom to do so."
"Yes, the students enjoyed their time in the Maker Studio. The open area gives the students more space and choices."
"I’ve seen all students thrive in the Maker Studio. This space allows children to stretch themselves in creative and innovative ways. We structure consistent opportunities for kids to collaborate and teach each other. Some students who tend to be more quiet in the classroom are up in front of peers coaching them on how to program the robots etc. I’ve seen language develop in the context of the Maker Studio and know it’s loved by students of all ages here at BP. Many first graders go during lunch as well. It’s great because they can follow up on things they’ve learned during our weekly sessions. There’s a comfort level and, overall, respect for materials that’s wonderful to see."And finally…
"The Maker Studio facilitates problem solving, collaboration, and creativity. It breaks down barriers of gender, age, language and learning differences. All students experience success and therefore, an increase in self-esteem! At lunch it is a beehive of activity welcoming everyone. All of the many new students to our school can feel welcome on their first day and make new friends. I have always believed in giving students as much creative choice as possible in the classroom. I think I am doing it to a greater extent now, with richer results from the student."
What do the students have to say about the Maker Studio?
"I enjoy going to the Maker Studio because it has some neat things and the only only thing that limits you is your creativity."
"It lets your mind kind of flow. Everything we do here is based off of creativity and inspiration."
"Nobody is going to judge you. If you do something wrong, there is always another way to do it."
"Yes because I like building things."
"Yes, because you can create anything."
"Yes! I love it! You can make anything you can. There's a 3D printer, sewing machines and more! It's so adventurous to explore."
"Yes, I extremely enjoy the Maker Studio and I think that it inspires creativity and innovation."
What do the parents have to say about the Maker Studio?
"YES!! They love it so much! We got my older son a sewing machine for Christmas, and all we had to do was plug it in and set it up--he got to sewing right away. He made a pair of pants for his brother, finger puppets, bags, etc. It was so great to see him so confident in his abilities. They also love coding and 3-D printing. They are more excited about the things they do in the maker studio than almost anything else they do at school (including recess!)."
"Maker Studio is my son's favorite place during school hours. He and his friends have spent hours creating stories, innovating and designing new adventures - It's been a wonderful learning space for the kids - A big thank you to all involved in making this happen!"
"Yes, she loves it. She is very creative and Maker Studio gives her the opportunity to try lots of things out and experiment with different materials and projects. She loves both class-led projects (Scribble bots, green screen movie making etc) as well as her own self-led projects where she has the freedom to play around with ideas (sewing, crafting etc). She's very excited by the 3D printer and also she enjoys working with/helping the other kids. She doesn't naturally gravitate towards coding but she did really enjoy Hour of Code, when all kids were exposed to coding."
"She likes going there very much. She is always very excited about the class projects that are done with the green screen, and being able to work in pairs there. She is also eager to use the sewing machines more. She loved her first experience there using the drawing robot. She also likes to explore using the various coding programs on the ipads (Scratch, Tynker, Kodable, Python) during lunch, and then introduces her (freshman) brother and us to them at home. It's given her the ability and confidence to explore and troubleshoot coding on her own at home."
"When I've visited a few times, it's been nice to see kids of all ages simultaneously doing their own thing often without needing any help. It is set up for them to help themselves to the materials they need and take their interests as far as they want. Everything is done at their own pace and in a relaxed way (with kids out of chairs and desks). I've seen kids spontaneously build a maze with the wood blocks and then work out a program for their robot to navigate it. The kids just have these ideas, try them, (and therefore learn) without an adult. Being new to Silicon Valley, I was a bit skeptical that the kids need more technology. But now that I have seen what the kids get to try and to learn in the studio, I am very happy that the school has such a place to explore their interests. Parents are always welcomed to visit the studio as well."
"Their minds are working!! They want to MAKE something. They are asking questions, and forced to think about how they will complete their objective. They are thinking conceptually - because they want to. Students who might normally check out after a few attempts at a word problem are sticking with it and following through to the end. conceptual thinking, research, programming, creative thinking, follow through, hand eye coordination, mathematics, 3 dimensional processing, articulation of thoughts, engineering, physics,..."
What are the different resources/activities in the Maker Studio?
- Sewing Machines
- Knitting, Weaving and Embroidery
- Design Engineering
- Circuitry: Electrical wires, motors, batteries, Little Bits
- Movie Making: Green Screen, Stop Motion Animation and other movie making techniques Coding: Various platforms
- Coding: Various platforms
- Robotics: LEGO Mindstorms, Bee-Bots, Spheros, Dash & Dot, Mini Drones, Hummingbirds, LEGO Wedo, Kamigami Robotss
- 3D Printing: Various 3D Printers
- All kinds of construction blocks (LEGO Storystarter, KEVA planks, LEGOs, wooden blocks, LEGO machines)
What if I have a hobby/skill that isn’t being undertaken at the Maker Studio?
Please talk to Smita Kolhatkar and you can work out a plan. For instance, last year, we had a group of parents who came once a fortnight to teach students Origami.
Will my student(s) get to go to the Maker Studio?
The Barron Park Maker Studio is open almost every lunch for all students from Grades 1 through 5, with a few variations. In addition, classrooms integrate making into their curriculum by signing up to use the Maker Studio in periodic chunks of time. The frequency of sign ups varies based upon the projects in progress.
Will my student(s) get to bring their creations home?
Depending upon the nature of the materials used, the projects may be brought home, or stay as is in the Maker Studio or dismantled and resources reused/recycled.
Additional questions? Please contact Smita Kolhatkar.
Dedicated Educational Technology Specialist
Smita Kolhatkar is the Educational Technology Specialist at Barron Park who helps integrate the array of technology with core curriculum across K-5. Given the ever changing technology landscape, a dedicated specialist helps teachers use the cutting edge technology in the classroom. "Ms. K" also teaches noontime coding programs to students and heads the Maker Studio.