Author Q&A: Lacy Brejcha Talks Building Makerspaces in School
Author Q&A: Lacy Brejcha Talks Building Makerspaces in School
PUBLISHED: Thursday, August 08, 2019 by Andilynn Feddeler

Organized into an easy-to-follow, month-by-month plan for implementation, Makerspaces in School provides field-tested and research-based knowledge that will serve educators as they create and maintain a meaningful Makerspace. Through Makerspaces, project-based learning provides opportunities for credible, legitimate, and authentic growth and development. This book will allow any educator to walk away with a plan to create a Makerspace in his or her classroom or a school- or districtwide model that works for many. Learn more about Makerspaces and how to start building one in this interview with the author, Lacy Brejcha.


Q: What’s your #1 advice to a teacher who is unsure how to start building a makerspace? 

A: For a classroom Makerspace, start small! Pick one Maker activity you can use the first week of school. From there, set a goal to add additional Maker activities (weekly would be great, but every 2 weeks or 6 weeks works great too). I know you already have an overwhelming amount of stuff to do, so start with something that naturally lends itself to the unit of study you are currently on. What part of your curriculum could you substitute with a Maker activity? For a schoolwide or classroom model, I have written Makerspaces in School to ease you into building your Makerspace. Starting the book in August and implementing as you go can provide a smooth and less stressful transition for staff and students.


Q: Why are Makerspaces beneficial for today’s students? 

A: Students deserve access to hands-on, innovative, creative, and problem-solving spaces. They will enter a workforce that prioritizes problem solving, creativity, innovation, and soft skills. Makerspaces are a great combination of these. Makerspaces serve kids at all levels, including those in special education and gifted and talented students. Students are on a more level playing field when there is a problem to solve and not only one solution. A Makerspace provides a vast gray area that gets kids out of their comfort zones. You will find innovation at its finest if you step foot into a properly planned and implemented Makerspace.


Q: How should a first-time Makerspace teacher introduce the Makerspace to parents or administrators? 

A: Makerspaces in School starts with research that is targeted at administration. Bring administration the research behind why you want a Makerspace. Parents, I have found, are particularly energetic about their children having access to a Makerspace. If their child comes home excited about it and talking about it, parents are very receptive. My book provides a parent letter as well that you can send home. It explains a Makerspace in what I felt like was just enough information to inform but not overwhelm. As you ask parents for donations of items that they may already have on hand (egg cartons, cardboard, tape, etc.), they start to ask their kids questions about why they need these items.

 

Q: What’s an example of a time a student really engaged in the Makerspace process that has really stuck with you? 

A: How can I pick one? SO MANY moments come to mind! The most rewarding for students and teachers, I believe, is when children who struggle in the traditional classroom become leaders during Makerspace time. You can see the pride and joy in their eyes and faces when they have mastered something or problem solved and arrived at a solution. In particular, one student who struggled daily in just about every area of school was able to take apart several broken keyboards and create one that worked! He diligently worked with tools, circuits boards, individual keys, key matrixes, microprocessors, and controller circuits until he had a working keyboard. So many science, technology, engineering, and math concepts were required to complete a task such as this at the elementary level.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from your work? 

A: I hope you finish the book with a Makerspace that fits your students’ and school’s unique needs! No two are the same—they should not be. Do what you know is best for your students and expect lots of messes . . . mess with materials, students messing up, teachers messing up and admitting maybe the kids know more about a Makerspace topic than they do. Become the facilitator; don’t expect perfection. Problem solving is messy, tricky, and frustrating, and requires diligence and patience, buts it’s so worth it! 


Photos and additional inspiration can be found on my website http://makerspacesinschool.com. The link “Classroom Website" has lots of photos for inspiration. Please share your Makerspace adventure with me on Twitter @lacybrejcha. I am always learning too and would love to follow your journey. Good luck, you’ve got this!
 

Lacy Brejcha has been an elementary education teacher for more than 15 years. She graduated from Baylor University in 2002. Currently, she is the GT district coordinator, elementary GT teacher, Makerspace teacher (innovation and enrichment), and instructional technologist at Bosqueville ISD. After building a successful Makerspace, she is excited to share how a Makerspace can work in your classroom, campus, or as a schoolwide model.