Caine’s Arcade and the power of PLAY
Love this video and the Power of Making things!
This year, one of the Lounsberry Library’s goals, is to create an environment that supports a  participatory culture by inviting creative play and making things! This  makerspace concept is highlighted by Maker Faire’s in the San Fransisco Bay Area, NYC and all over the world.
According to Makerspace, makerspaces are:

“Modeled after hackerspaces, a maker  space is a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials, and develop creative projects. It could be embedded inside an existing organization or standalone on its own. It could be a simple room in a building or an outbuilding that’s closer to a shed. The key is that it can adapt to a wide variety of uses and can be shaped by educational purposes as well as the students’ creative goals.”

Its inclusion in libraries was conceptualized by those developing progressive public library programs who’ve implement 3D printers, high end video creation equipment and photo editing software in their programs. School libraries quickly followed their colleagues’ lead and see the need for Makerspaces in their own library spaces. Buffy Hamilton, Teacher-librarian from Creekview HS in Canton, Georgia, believes that Makerspaces support the need for Participatory Learning and the thoughts conveyed in “PLAY”, the acronym for Henry Jenkins New Media Literacies Project.

At Lounsberry, we host a student run K’nex club, with the guidance of teachers Janine Latella and Jim Sagniec, that meets twice a week during 5th period lunch. Their creations are awesome and we’re thinking about incorporating an understanding of the design process as they work. Student run clubs, which support student interests and  informal learning, have become so popular in our library, that our guidance department has stepped in to help coordinate their timing. With the success of our Pumpkin Making activity, we’re thinking about running  regular makerspace “making something out of nothing” activities. Minecraft and Portal  will soon be available in the library and we’re desperately looking for a robotics platform that is both manipulative and programming based but doesn’t involve all those sure to get lost and hard to keep organized tiny parts! Students may create video and stills with cameras and video editing software available in the library and are encouraged to use various production based web platforms.

You may ask, “Why in the age of Standardized Testing would we make efforts to emphasize learning that seems far removed from standardized curriculum?” In actuality, Participatory Culture supports standards emphasized in NETS, P21, AASL’s Standards for the 21st C Learner, and Common Core State Standards including: Collaboration, Creativity and Multimedia Literacies. In addition to the Habits of Mind which support successful life long learning. In all honesty, I truly believe that creativity and creative problem solving is our strength as a nation, (See Dan Pink and  Dr. Yong Zhao), I also believe that students truly do want to learn, however in order to see that as educators, we need to let go of the barriers that stifle their learning. We need to give them more room to learn how to learn , (including failing), and more time to develop their personal interests, understandings, and passions. I only wish it was this easy. I’m afraid our teachers are working their tails off to do all that is asked of them and the number one complaint from all of them is that there’s no room for fun. There’s no time to let students’ passions lead their learning. If it is our goal as educators to foster life long learning and eager to go to college students, then students need to be given the needed “room” to develop the skills and disposition needed to learn to learn and the capacity to enjoy the process; learning at its best is PLAY!

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