Makerspace Program a Hit at Sacred Heart

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Bridge Builders: Grade 5 students Mika Haikara and Arlo Byers (kneeling)are trying to improve the stability of their bridge.

Sacred Heart Catholic School in Espanola is very grateful and excited with the ongoing results of a province-wide initiative implemented during the 2017-2018 school year. The learnings are being acknowledged, sustained and celebrated because the initiative has been fully embraced by both students and staff.

Sacred Heart was one of just thirteen schools in the province to be trained to create a makerspace which is a physical environment that fosters opportunities for hands-on learning and creation, often enabled by emerging technologies.

The Espanola school received a grant of $25,000 to create its Makerspace. This allowed for the purchase of ten iPads, robots such as Bee Bots, Dash & Dot, Cubelets and Ozobots, a 3D printer, circuit building kits, sewing materials and Lego packages. The funding also allowed for staff to learn about the technology and to plan lessons that connected to the curriculum and incorporated the ‘Maker Mindset’.

Gabrielle St. Germain, Victoria Delisle and Sienna Desjardin (left to right) are building simple electrical circuits.

“Before our participation in the Makerspace project, there were small pockets of these kinds of activities happening in our school. Now, there are intentional lessons happening across all grades. These tasks encourage global competencies like collaboration, problem-solving and improving ideas. Often, students embed the technology into their work with little direction from the teacher,” said Sacred Heart Principal, Syndy Withers.

Makerspace activities and challenges are open-ended and allow for differentiated instruction. Most tasks are highly engaging, requiring collaboration, inquiry, communication skills and, perhaps most importantly, innovation.

“Students love using their Makerspace time to pursue their passion projects. Some students are learning to code, others are constructing models and some are even learning to sew. All students selected an area of interest and they are excited to share what they have learned with their peers,” said Grade 5 teacher, Laurie Donnelly.

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