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Gadgets Fill School Library’s Exploring Spaces

Library Media Specialist Danielle Small talks about the new “maker” and “demo” or “breaker” spaces created in the Pottsgrove High School Library

POTTSTOWN PA – Giving Pottsgrove High School students an array of brain-teasing toys with which to play could make them more creative and boost their ability to solve problems, their librarian has told the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors.

High school Library Media Specialist Danielle Small said she’s carved out areas within the library to open new “maker” and “demo” spaces where students can test personal ideas, dream up new products and techniques, or tear apart old junk to see what makes it tick. Allowing learners to explore, both on their own and with others, helps sharpen critical thinking and breeds innovation, she told board members.

And no, Small emphasized, these are not goof-off sanctuaries. Several studies have already demonstrated these kinds of tool-laden spaces encourage collaboration, new technology and design, and the interest to build things. They are intended to enhance science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics courses the school already offers, as well as those due once its building reconstruction is complete.

Think of the maker space as an inventor’s pod. It’s stocked with puzzles, gadgets, and a Lego wall where students can stack those popular plastic bricks to their hearts’ content. In fact, Small told directors, the wall “is probably the most exciting piece of this” because of all the possible uses it presents.

Think of the demo space, she added, as a demolition workshop (hence the name), with a broken toaster, a discarded cell phone, maybe a couple of computer motherboards, and the odd whatsits. How did they work?, and what might make them work better?; those are questions users might get answered, or answer themselves, Small said.

A three-dimensional printer also is included, so what students dream up also can get produced on the spot.

The maker and demo spaces were funded in part by a grant from employees of Bentley Systems of Exton PA, presented last year by former school board member David Faulkner. It could benefit from more monetary or other donations … like more Legos, Small noted. View the Instagram video below:

Directors learned of the project during the presentation portion of their Dec. 1 (2015; Tuesday) meeting.

Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Dec. 1 meeting):

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