Hands-on, experiential learning can be a great way to involve students of all ages in something that goes beyond the traditional classroom set-up.  With the growing popularity of maker spaces—places specifically geared toward providing the community with technology, tools, and a social environment in which to experiment—it’s easier than ever to help students of all ages engage in a vibrant way to learn.

Libraries, schools, and other social spaces are working together “to embrace a culture of experimentation and innovation,” according to the American Library Association’s report on “making” in the library.  The encouragement of trial and error can appeal especially to teens and tweens, often considered hard-to-reach age groups.   And the opportunity to tie maker space activities in with school curricula is not to be overlooked.

Maker space projects can include any (or all) of the following:

  • DIY bicycle repair
  • Crafting (knitting, sewing, crochet, etc.)
  • Computer programming
  • Robotics
  • Metal-working
  • Art projects

The key is to use a combination of technology and chances to learn by doing in a social environment.

Maker spaces also allow for a variety of opportunities to collaborate and partner amongst community organizations, such as libraries, schools, businesses, and nonprofits.  Organizations such as the Institute of Play have experimented with a multitude of ways to use game theory and other hands-on methods to get students interested in life-long learning in collaborative settings.

As it becomes more and more important to engage learners in new ways, the maker space movement provides tips and tricks beyond the traditional classroom to get kids involved and excited about learning new things.

Image via New York Hall of Science