February's round table brought together a great group of educators, designers, and makers. Brie Daley, Light Lab Director at Friends' Central School (FCS), led and hosted the round table at the new Ulmer Family Light Lab, a lower school making facility equipped with four themed Maker Studios.
After a welcome from the FCS lower school principal Kelly Bird Pierre and introductions, we kicked off the evening with an empathy role playing exercise. Pairs took turns attempting the difficult task of tracing a star using only a reflection from a mirror, with one partner instructing the other through the task. The activity helped remind us how difficult trying new ways of thinking and doing can be for students, and the importance of understanding their frustrations, so that we can provide appropriate support.
Brie and Michael Darfler, the FCS upper school makerspace director, led the group on a tour of the Light Lab facility exploring the four themed maker studios, Natural Science, Media/Computing, Fabrication, and Design and the type of projects going on in each space. In the Natural Science studio, FCS students were growing lettuce and herbs, testing and tracking soil pH, caring for the plants, and observing growth patterns. In the Design studio, students were working on a Science/Spanish project drawing and naming the skeletal and muscular systems. In the Fabrication and Media/Computing studios Kindergarteners were building cardboard cars with working LittleBits headlights and horns which they will use with the green screen to create videos.
Throughout the tour and discussion we explored the value of mixed-grade projects and authentic learning opportunities, how to fit making into teacher and student schedules, how to run meaningful professional development to get teachers excited, where to source materials, and various tools and tricks to enhance your maker culture.
Thank you to Brie, Michael, and the entire Friends' Central Maker community for hosting a great evening.