An Innovative Idea Sparks to Life

by Aaron Hovel and Jennifer Zacharis – originally published on Pike Perspectives.

At this time last year, a small informal committee of faculty and staff was formed to investigate ways to promote making, building, STEAM, risk taking, and innovative problem solving at Pike. This wasn’t a committee requested by the administration, it was a group of passionate educators with questions and an idea. We eventually found that a Makerspace would be a perfect place to foster curiosity and encourage hands on experiential learning and creative exploration. Our team realized that a Makerspace was a big idea that would take quite a bit of work to organize, and a plan that would require a budget to purchase supplies and equipment. At another school this might have been a moment where a good idea could have lost steam, but not at Pike.  We knew that Pike is a place where innovation in teaching is nurtured and supported so our small committee had the confidence to move forward with an exciting new concept.

First, we wrote a proposal for a Makerspace describing the goals of the space and how it supported the mission of the school (develop lifelong, independent learners with a creative spirit) as well as the need for a budget. The proposal and the budget was submitted to Muddy Waters, the Head of School, and the administration. This was another moment where a good idea could have lost momentum, but with careful consideration, the administration gave preliminary approval and a budget for a Makerspace and we were asked to submit a detailed plan for final approval.  Once final approval was obtained our committee was expanded to include at least one teacher from each division and staff from the Library, Technology and the Advancement Offices.

With the full support of the Administration, a larger Innovation Committee was energized to start researching and planning for a space that would come to life this school year at Pike. We read books, visited other schools with Makerspaces, attended workshops, developed a list of supplies and analyzed how students would have an opportunity to use the space this year. Finally, with all of this research completed we began the work of ordering the materials and setting up the new Makerspace.

Our pilot Makerspace is already off to a great start this fall.  Faculty were introduced to the space during opening meetings, and students in each division have had an opportunity to go to the Makerspace during elective, club, and choice times or with their classroom teachers.  The name of the Makerspace is Spark, because we felt that it was a fitting title for a new stimulating and inspiring environment located at the center of our school.  Upon reflection, Spark also feels appropriate for the journey that ignited this idea into a reality at Pike.  Like many new initiatives at Pike, Spark was fueled by faculty and staff who were willing to put in extra time and positive energy to improve the student experience.

You can find Spark in the classroom located in the rear of the Library.

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