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    Students Dabble in Innovation and Technology in School Libraries
    Posted on 01/16/2019
    A photo of student hand drawing a picture at a desk

    Students Dabble in Innovation and Technology in School Libraries

    Abigail Levin and Craig Seasholes are Seattle Public Schools librarians, and numerous times a week, they transform their libraries into spaces that enable students to collaborate, create, and build community. Levin, Cedar Park Elementary, and Seasholes, Dearborn Park Elementary, share a passion for providing makerspaces for students.

    Makerspaces can inspire innovation and creative thinking within a communal space where students can tinker with crafts, tools, software, and electronics. Students do not necessarily have to have access to high-quality technology equipment such as 3D and laser printers to experience makerspace. There are infinite possibilities for students to use a wide variety of materials to create projects of all shapes and sizes.

    Cedar Park Makerspace Exploration

    Cedar Park Elementary makerspaces are scattered throughout the library as learning stations. For Wolf, a student at Cedar Park, “Makerspace is a place to build, code, and make.” He shares as he works on a ‘Mystery Mosaic,’ a collaborative art activity that builds fine motor skills, strengthens attention to detail, and introduces students to the concepts of pixels in computer science.

    A student poses for a photo while holding his beaded bracelet.J.J. applies his knowledge of beginner concepts in coding to create a binary bracelet. Binary is the way that modern digital computers understand language, as in zeros or ones. Students encoded their initials using colored beads, based on a lesson from “I used two colors, blue and yellow, and only used two at a time to make this,” he specified.

    While some students choose to dabble in coding projects, a group of students utilize newspapers, egg cartons, and various craft tools to mold different sea creatures. A running theme at the school this year is marine biology, and as part of that exploration, the students are taking the “Ocean Challenge” to rebuild, learn about the threats facing Earth's oceans, and what we can do to eliminate them. As part of this challenge, students are making sea creatures using recycled materials to raise money and awareness for ocean conservation.  Levin is intentional in weaving classroom themes and standards into makerspace while also providing opportunities for open-ended exploration.

    Dearborn Park Library Blooms into Makerspace Central

    In Dearborn Park Elementary library, students are perched at different stations using a combination of low- and high-tech resources to explore their creative thinking. Two students were focus deeply as they draw multiple pathways on a piece of paper.

    A photo of student hand drawing a pictureUpon completion, they activate their Ozobots (a branded robot) and observe to see whether they’ve successfully charted the road segments. One Ozobot slowly zooms towards the edge of the table before falling to the ground. “Uh oh,” one student says, “I need to make the lines darker and find different paths.”

    Makerspaces can also provide special education students multiple opportunities to engage in tactile learning. Gigi, an instructional assistant at Dearborn Park guides her student to spell out letters on an iPad. “This is one of their favorite times during the day,” she says about her student’s excitement for makerspaces, books, and technology in the library.

    Seattle Public Schools is proud to provide spaces for students to learn, create, and explore together. Truly student-centered, makerspaces are designed to promote learning environments with limitless possibilities.