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Coggin Intermediate Students Enjoy New Space for Creation

By Sara Musgrove

 

Fourth through sixth grade students at Coggin Intermediate have recently been enjoying the product of a Brownwood Education Foundation grant funded through a Bunin family endowment for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  The funding has provided Coggin students a new colorful space to create. The new Makerspace room, which used to be a storage room, has been re-allocated and freshened up as a place to learn, make, collaborate, and share. According to Makerspaces.com, an online supplier of many types of creative tools found in makerspace rooms, these kind of lab kits provide a stimulating environment for students of all ages. “It’s more of the maker mindset of creating something out of nothing and exploring your own interests that’s at the core of a makerspace,” the website states. “These spaces are also helping to prepare those who need the critical 21st-century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). They provide hands-on learning, help with critical thinking skills and even boost self-confidence. Some of the skills that are learned in a makerspace pertain to electronics, 3D printing, 3D modeling, coding, robotics and even woodworking.”

         

Coggin Intermediate teachers Katherine Means, Sherri Land, and Candice Williams researched methods to incorporate STEM into their classrooms and have seen students enjoying the results of this new type of learning environment added to their campus. “If you want to do building and drawing, you can do that,” Means said. “If you want to code, you can do that. It’s your choice on what pathway you can take.” The Makerspace room offers engaging posters and wall decorations reminding students of their abilities, while utilizing alternative seating – including a pair of sparkly red booth benches. A new iPad cart recently contributed to the options available. “We wanted a space for people to come create,” Means said. “We don’t always have enough time in our classroom, but if we designate a time within our two-week rotation, every kid will be able to do something hands-on. We work in a two-week rotation where every student gets to go every other week. Then we have a whole day to go in there with our students.”

 

The Makerspace room contains boxes packed with supplies and activities to spur the imagination. Wooden blocks, Tiny Home Kits, colored paper, pipe cleaners, robotics kits, Legos, Ozobot (tiny robot) kits, iPads, Wonder Packs (ball-shaped robots that students can code and cue), and littleBits kits are part of the rewarding activities available to students, empowering students to learn through play using creativity and invention. Their Makerspace time allows them to bring practical application from their classroom lessons. This serves both students and teachers for an enhanced learning experience. “We use it as an extension of our lessons,” Means said. “If you need to do a lab in there, do a lab. If you need to do a storyboard, use the materials to create a storyboard. It’s not that you drop what you were doing in the classroom, you can extend.”

 

Students have enjoyed the new space and look forward to their time working on science, technology, engineering, art, and math projects in a new way. The colorful robot kits, artistic freedom, and physical application provide a built-in reward for learning and creation. A poster on the wall reminds students why they are there: “We are born makers,” it reads. “We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands.” Means is just one of the intermediate teachers excited to see her students benefitting from their Makerspace. “It is engaging, and the students are so excited,” Means said. “They look forward to going and doing a hands-on activity. They do things they normally wouldn’t get to do in the classroom. It gives them a chance to make connections with the real world, to think outside the box, and be creative.”