And Just like that….

The Barron Park Maker Studio, Palo Alto Unified School District’s first Makerspace, is entering its third year tomorrow and just like that it has become an integral part of the school’s fiber, the school’s culture, the school’s daily life while influencing several other sites within the district to either set up mobile Maker carts or create their own spaces or within classrooms or they are thinking along those lines…

Seems incredible doesn’t it? Do things happen just like that? Nothing ever happens just like that. Remember the 10,000 hour rule from Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outlier? Similarly, there is a lot of hard work that goes in from various people to make this happen. My guess is that at the end of the first year, we had crossed the 10,000 hour barrier which is why the second year saw a tipping point. And the third year is starting out on a very high note!

What was the sequence?

  • The Makerspace proposal was written up. Classroom teachers thought it was another extra and while not against the idea, weren’t sure what the expectation was.
  • The school PTA approved money for some equipment (initial equipment already existed through PiE grants, the district’s fundraising body).
  • Fortunate timing: there was an empty classroom at the end of the year which got earmarked for the Makerspace.
  • The equipment was set up there.
  • Teachers saw the space, were excited about what they could do and started signing up for time from the first week of school.
  • Here’s the reflection for end of year one. It was surreal.
  • Then came year two. If year one was so good, could it be better?
  • But year two was. We got more equipment, but that wasn’t it. It was the safe haven that it provided the community whether it was students, teachers or parents. Donations kept coming. Another grant came through. At the end of the year, the classroom teachers needed to vote for the “extras” that needed to be cut. The Maker Studio was listed under an extra. It was unanimously voted as something everyone wanted to keep. The students and work spoke for itself.
  • Here is the reflection for year two.
  • So begins year three. Every classroom has signed up for setting expectations and norms for the Maker Studio, the way they would for their regular classrooms. Everyone is excited about the activities/projects they will undertake with their students. With a large 3D printer donation, not only does the Maker Studio now have five printers, each grade level has a 3D printer in each of the classrooms. There are two additional KEVA plank bins going into classrooms. There are two sewing machines going into classrooms. It isn’t about the equipment. It is the mindset. The Maker Movement has become an integral part of the school. It has taken a village. What does year three hold? No clue yet. Time will tell. It can only get better….

And it happened Just Like That…..