Kennedy School Makerspace
The John F. Kennedy School launched the district’s first Makerspace/Innovation Lab in November of 2015, partnering with the Lesley University Graduate School of Education to re-design the school’s Science Lab into a space and a program that supports Science education through hands-on creative learning opportunities that promote critical thinking. The Lab is designed to provide structure and support for Science and inquiry-based learning in a 21st century STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) environment, utilizing educational resources such as LittleBits, BeeBots, Scratch, Lego Simple Machines, and others. Kennedy’s Makerspace/Innovation Lab is located in what was the school’s Science Lab, and was designed to further support Science education by providing all students with exposure to 21st century skills and creative learning opportunities that promote critical thinking. Students at all grade levels are able to learn through exploration and inquiry, working on a variety of projects to understand the science behind products and resources familiar to them from the real world. The partnership with Lesley University included ongoing coaching from trained Lesley faculty to co-design STEAM learning projects with Kennedy teachers during the spring.
“Ultimately, we believe that a Makerspace designed for K-8 students naturally ignites creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving among children and helps develop 21st century skills,” stated Kennedy School Principal Mark Hurrie. “Whether engaging in simple programming with KIBOs (robot kits) or Scratch, or complex kinetic art sculptures or 3D printing, this Makerspace/Innovation Lab will provide both students and educators with the opportunity to be involved with activities and resources that fully support STEAM content and practice standards.”
“The real beauty of this project is that it was community-driven. Makerspaces are designed to inspire inquiry and creativity in a collaborative environment, and this project exemplifies the importance of thinking creatively and working together to accomplish a goal,” added Superintendent of Schools, Mary Skipper. “I’m excited about the kind of teaching and learning opportunities that this space offers, and am so appreciative of the community’s commitment to bringing this project to fruition.”
The genesis of the Kennedy School Makerspace/Innovation Lab was the Kennedy School Improvement Council’s (SIC) strategic goal-planning process in the spring of 2015. The SIC is comprised of representatives from various school stakeholder groups including parents and guardians, staff members, and school administration. During their planning process, the SIC identified two important goals that led to the discussion of a school-based Makerspace as the kind of space that would enhance the school’s educational mission. Those goals were (1) expanding the school learning focus beyond English Language Arts and Math to Science, and (2) providing access to all students to engage in 21st century learning. The SIC worked in partnership with the Kennedy School 21st Century Technology Integration Committee, which also consists of parents/guardians and staff members, and Lesley University partners to develop the final plan and the following mission for the new learning environment.
Mission of the Kennedy School Makerspace/Innovation Lab
The Makerspace/Innovation Lab will be a resource-rich space that will take on a multidisciplinary approach to encourage Kennedy School students’ development of 21st century skills as well as information and communications technology (ICT) literacy. It is our vision to connect learning to real life and to ultimately prepare students to respond better to a future that is yet to be defined.