Built to Last?

I try not to look at my old elementary classroom / lab / makerspace (sic) when I walk by these days.

It doesn’t look like this, anymore:

K4STEMLAB | Overall Shot

The K4STEMLAB at Northfield Community Elementary School, a student-centered, engineering-focused technology learning space, circa September 2012.

I have only been gone a year (I now teach in our middle school – in the same district and building). The space has since been repurposed (made back into two very needed classrooms). The teacher who took over for me has new digs in another part of the school. She’s doing amazing things, with a solid making / design thinking / science bent, and I’m happy for her and the elementary kiddos she teaches. Truly.

But, what I built – painstakingly, passionately, over an entire summer in 2012 – is gone. Three years, the program ran, integrating Engineering is Elementary into a screen-based K-4 technology ed class. (Here are some photos.) We did things no one did before, incorporating an engineering (making!) focus to elementary technology class, and it was glorious. Or, so we (I) thought.

Growth is a natural thing, and when I was offered the chance to literally design a middle school maker / STEAM program from scratch last year, I leapt, without hesitation.

And, then, we built this. (Actually, we built this, the photo below is this year’s version, our v1.1)

Lunch Bunch, Grades 5 & 8

Students enjoy “Lunch Bunch” in Digital Shop, the Northfield Community Middle School Makerspace, circa November 2016.

And so, as I walk past my old elementary classroom, reminding myself not to glance over and see what’s become of it, I wonder … will what we’ve created in our middle school endure? I’m thinking beyond the physical space – the program, its emphasis on inquiry, on making, on design as pedagogy, on student voice and choice.

Many of my Fablearn colleagues have maintained wonderful makerspaces like these for years. Certainly, while we’re still with our districts, in the same role / capacity, the life expectancy of the space and program is essentially limitless. Maybe?

But … what happens when or if you move on or change roles?

What will become of your space, your program?

Who will take over for you?

What will your legacy be?

-kj-