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You may have heard of the growing popularity of makerspaces in schools, but have you ever thought about a makerbus?
Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Georgia decided to take makerspace on the road to reach as many students as possible, some who wouldn’t have had a chance to experience a makerspace otherwise.
A makerspace is described as a place for students to create, moving beyond consumption. It is a chance for students to learn and explore by building something (or anything) with a variety of tools and materials, often found in a school or library. (Think of it like DIY for education.)
The Beginnings of a MakerBus
The iTeach staff at KSU is dedicated to bringing personalized learning and technology to school districts across Georgia and beyond by working with classroom teachers through consulting and professional development training.
But with the growth of the Maker Movement, and the passion of the iTeach staff, an idea formed.
While schools could come to the KSU lab, or set up a makerspace in their individual school, the costs added up. One school alone can’t afford to create their own makerspace, but by sharing the cost between schools, multiple schools could enjoy a mobile makerspace.
Enter the MakerBus.
Now schools and their students can participate in the Maker Movement, including those who normally wouldn’t have a chance too. The MakerBus supports school districts in Georgia, including: Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Dekalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Paulding.
On the MakerBus
KSU started with a 30-foot bus, then wrapped it to make it colorful and fun. Once inside, the bus includes the latest technology such as a laser cutter, 3D printer, drone, circuit kits, and educationally-filtered Wi-Fi provided by Kajeet.
According to the KSU press release, “Students are able to engage in hands-on activities such as building a robot from a kit or using modeling clay to create a stop-motion movie. Along with a commitment to the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects, the MakerBus is utilized to teach reading, writing and history lessons.”
There is a team of 62 maker coaches, who are certified teachers and administrators that support anywhere from two to five schools in neighboring communities.
The bus is set to travel to those neighboring communities, many of which serve low-income students. They made their first trip on May 1, and have two more trips planned for this month alone, thanks to $6,000 in initial funding from Cobb EMC Community Foundation.
“To be able to take our engaging, interactive MakerBus to learners is just the next step in our collective efforts to make ‘best in class’ learning opportunities available to every student.”
Stephanee Stephens, Director, iTeach
iTeach also does customized days for schools within 100 miles of KSU, including: STEAM Day, A Day of Making, Week of Making, and Professional Development.
Making a MakerBus
Makerspaces help students experience today’s world and STEM in an engaging, meaningful way. Another Kajeet customer, Newington Public Schools in Connecticut, made a technology bus to drive around to neighboring communities to help improve student access to tech.
Here are the four critical pieces to making a technology bus:
- A bus (of course).
- Internet access that allows students to use even more resources when on board.
- A passionate leader or team to drive this innovative idea (along with driving the bus).
- Anything the students can use to create!