STEM + Natural fit for our Makerspace

Marble WallThe Library Makerspace provides our girls with a space to come and build, explore, invent, collaborate and create. It is a place where our girls become creators rather than consumers. There is a spirit in Makerspaces to transform the patron to a producer rather than consumer (Peepler & Bender, 2013) Students can follow their interests, passions and curiosity applying knowledge from all areas of life including class lessons. Nearly all projects and creations incorporate a variety of STEM + topics. Through guided learning in Library lessons we share skills, techniques, equipment and tools.  We motivate our girls to imagine and create using stories such as The Very Unusual Pursuit by Katherine Jinks. This particular story inspired our girls to create ‘Boggles’ using circuitry and Squishy Dough. Once the girls experience the equipment and skills they are able to venture into our space to further explore and ‘play’ in their own time. More information can be found here:

We provide a variety of equipment to be used in our space, for example: Little Bits, Electric Bricks, building tools, Circuitry materials, LEGO, iPads, cameras, microphones, flexi-geo models, Goldie Blox, 3D pens, 3D printer and many craft materials.

Design sheet1rDesign planning sheets are available for our girls to guide them in their making and to keep a record of their processes and it’s also a place to have photographs of their finished piece of work. These can then be shared in displays around the library.

Coding, which is being considered the new literacy, has been a focus in our library lessons this year.  ‘Hour of Code’ has been a popular whole school event the last few years which can be found here. We used books like Hello Ruby by Linda Liukas, Ada Bryron Lovlace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark to introduce and stimulate coding discussions and activities. Using unplugged activities and coding online software like Scratch and Pencil Code, all year levels enjoy challenges to create code. This post explains how in more detail

Within our Makerspace we have robotics where the girls can build LEGO WeDo, NXT Mindstorm and program BB8 droid and Parrot Minidrones. Using Scratch and the Tickle App our girls code the robots to follow their instructions and commands to move around the library.

The Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum is being addressed in the varied activities taking place within our space. The projects meet a number of learning objectives including computational thinking and programming skills.

Recently our girls started a Marble Run Wall demonstrating engineering skills as they problem solve how to creatively make interesting and challenging runs which are slow in parts and then speed up with steps, pinwheels and even LED lights!

There has been a lot of interest in our 3D printer and 3D pen. As part of a Geography unit one student group designed and printed an artefact to illustrate their concept. The girls thoroughly enjoy making necklaces, bracelets and trinkets with the 3D pen. Another popular activity is wearable art. The girls use conductive thread, LED lights and press studs to make jewellery.

I was pleased to see our makerspace being recognised in one of our school magazines, even if the title was brought about because I made the mistake of mentioning my past life as a leading female rally driver in UK to #betsteachingpartnerever Megan Daley,

The article can be found scrolling through the Huddle.

‘STREAMS’   [ science, technology, reading/(w)riting, arts, maths and social]…… is very much alive and present in our Junior School Library Makerspace.

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Jackie Child
Jackie Child has been teaching primary aged students for 40 years in a number of countries. She is passionate about how children learn through constructivist pedagogy. She is a Teacher Librarian at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School and a sessional tutor at Griffith University for pre-service teachers. Jackie doesn’t believe in standing still, there is always plenty to ‘do’ and learn!