Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Ones Who See Things Differently (NCMS Makerspace)

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Steve Jobs

In the field of education, so many of our brightest students fit the very definition provided by Steve Jobs. We are not asking that students break the rules and cause total chaos, but we are asking them to use their creativity and imagination that they have within them to provide us with something that makes a difference for others.  

A Night at the Roxbury, is definitely not one of my favorite movies, and some of you may be laughing that I even considered listing this movie, but it had one line that forever stuck with me, "What if the outside of the club looked like the inside?" 

Take a moment to think of a school hallway and the actions that take place while students switch classes at passing time. (Yes, I know some of you at this very moment are smiling and reliving old high school glory days.) Besides students stopping at their lockers and chatting with friends, it's also a time where various activities occur, ranging from leaning on walls or tapping on lockers to bigger discipline issues. 

As I researched many articles, partook in social media chats and had various discussions with other educators about Makerspaces, it always seemed to promote the same idea, makerspace areas need to be in a classroom or media center. 

Once again, I decided that my students deserved the best, but why should it be limited to a select classroom area. 

Our makerspace was placed in the hallway! 

Yes, we placed robotic Legos and had Aleng, our IT Coordinator (@Alengman) place a disassembled computer with a monitor on a table for our students to utilize during passing.

Computer Assembled

Yes it's in a hallway for students to use during passing! 

A sign was placed on the monitor and stated that whoever could fix the computer to work would recieve a prize. What took place the following morning brought joy to many of the teachers who observed an amazing situation occurring, which was students wasted little time at their locker and went directly to the table. Some designed the Lego robotics while others tried to assist each other in trying to assemble a computer to work again. Instead of talking about the football game the day before or leaning against their locker, they worked collaboratively in a positive manner that had not been witnessed before. 

By the following morning, a sign was placed on the computer by a student who claimed he fixed it. Upon calling the student down to demonstrate to Aleng, Andrew (our other IT specialist) and I, we couldn't help to think of Good Will Hunting, as this student took it upon himself to fix the computer after school hours. When he arrived, he demonstrated what he did, and then powered it up with a huge smile on his face. He was so proud as to what he had done, that he didn't even ask for the prize.  (Yes, I did remind him that he was getting a prize when I called his parents to tell them how proud we were of him).

Later on in the morning, other students started to line up and noticed a sign announcing that someone assembled the computer correctly. Then to my delighted surprise, I was hit with numerous questions:

-Could we have a software challenge next time?
-Could we have a section for just girls, as we want to show the boys up?
-Could we have another chance at that computer? 
-Could we create our own computer from scratch?

Their passionate questions continued for several minutes and all I could respond was, YES!

The best part of it all was that the students understood that they are given responsibility, trust and respect from us and in return they are rewarding us with trust and respect back. They didn't need to be watched over and told what to do. They just needed a chance to use their creative imaginations to make something.