By: Kate Thomas
In our second meeting we stepped into some of the precariousness that one encounters in a makerspace. Key members of our team were not there. We adapted our opening exercise from a physics speed dating game to more a concrete check in around concepts that interest team members related to physics. We then watched several video clips of makers to see how artists, inventors and scientists make, verbalize and test their concepts. As I reflect now, I realize that often the testing of the idea is where the magic happens.
As the event facilitators, we tested our agility to adapt curricula to the conditions that were before us. I think this is the spirit of teaching and making within a makerspace and perhaps even thinking computationally.
After our introductory exercise, we mapped out community norms, asking ourselves, how do we wish to work together for the next four meetings? Key agreements involve an openness to hearing what others are thinking and respecting how different people work and make ideas. After our agreements, we had the pleasure of learning about makeymakeys, e-textiles, circuit scribes and arduino with Jeff from Code Create. I was particularly struck by Jeff’s adaptability between thinking artistically and computationally.
Our group is remarkably diverse. We come from different cultures, ways of teaching and learning and disciplines. This makes for a complex and rich learning environment. One cannot take for granted that we are all on the same page when we meet and interact. I often wonder about our joint interaction rituals. How do we come to know each other and stay focused on our task of creating 3-4 activities/assessments for computational thinking in a physics makerspace-to-class room environment? Whew!
Perhaps the most engaging part of the day involved breaking into small groups based on the concepts we generated earlier in the day. Student groups formed around the concepts of hinges and electric transfer. A third group consisting of the program staff wrestled with magnetic forces and an elevation device for pushing a baby in a stroller that hovers above the ground. Each team was supported by a teacher/expert who challenged concepts without interfering in the wonderful ideas.
We are learning how to make computational concepts together. This is a time of great flexibility and emergence. We’ll continue to harness these concepts and make them into tangible activities attached to meaningful assessments.