• Middle School Mobile Maker Space

    We want to establish a DIY space at four (4) of our district’s middle schools where people can come together to invent, create and learn. By providing flexible, modular projects that will produce new skills based on students’ interests and abilities our goal is to make serious learning look a lot like play.To help insure success we have created this four-school community that will collaborate and share resources while supporting each individual school’s program as our maker spaces evolve.  We intend to design best practices within our community as we share these resources.Each school will have basic equipment to support a beginning maker space but will combine this with 4 traveling themed groups of project starters.  Each 9 weeks throughout the school year the themed groups will rotate between the schools to appeal to the interests of a wide range of students without any individual school having to bear the entire cost for all the requested equipment.


    THEME 1- STEM: The goal of the STEM cart is to address the role of science and technology in 21st century education by enabling students to move from simple robotics to complex circuitry while experimenting with non-toxic electrically conductive paint, LED lights, and programming credit card-sized computers. The STEM cart supports several several conceptual strands within the Tennessee Standards such as Embedded Inquiry, Embedded Technology and Engineering, and Motion. The cart includes a variety of reusable projects that will enable collaboration between media specialists and classroom teachers or be used as stand alone lessons in a media center.

    THEME 2-PRODUCTION: The Production cart addresses College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening by allowing students to practice with digital formats of communication while collaborating with other students, organizing ideas, and presenting diverse opinions and information. The Production cart will include tools to create podcasts which integrate into the SchoolWires platform, giving parents and the community access to content produced by students using this cart. Students will also be able to create videos, short films, stop-motion animation, and documentaries.

    THEME 3-ART: The goal of the Art Cart is to generate learning through creating and collaboration while providing opportunities for deeper understanding and critical thinking. Origami, Letterpress, and Screenprinting support creativity and technical skill, while 3D cutouts and sewing projects illustrate the link between Mathematics and Art.

    THEME 4-3D PRINTER: The Ultimaker 2 is the focus of the 3D printer cart. Students will design projects, digitize the designs, and measure dimensions before 3D printing. This cart will help students understand how to take abstract concepts and turn them into tangible items. Students can create stand-alone items or design parts to larger piece, such as a robotic project or proto-type tool.

  • Making it Work

    Posted by JENNIFER RANDOLPH on 1/24/2017

    Well, we're now into our third quarter with our makerspace experience.  If there's one important take-away for me so far it's that this can look a million different ways and that's okay!  Flexibility is the name of the game!

    With many new staff members in our building this year, it's been a challenge to introduce the possibility of the makerspace to teachers in a way that doesn't seem like one more thing to learn and incoporate into an already hectic timeline. I'm finding that this first year is very much about giving myself the chance to try out and learn more about the resources that we have while working with teachers and coaches to find ways to incorporate them in the classroom.  My goal is to find at least one great activity for each rotation for a teacher to use in the classroom. 

    I am lucky that I teach a related arts rotation class each quarter and have been able to introduce the makerspace to these sixth grade students throughout the year.  That has given me the opportunity to try some things out and see what works and what flops.  I'm also excited to announce that starting in February we will also have a makerspace club meeting every week as a part of community school!

    So, we'll just keep trying new things and tweaking as we go.  That's what making is all about!



    duct tape

    A fabulous duct tape pencil pouch design!



    Students experimenting with circuit boards

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  • Building a Maker Mindset

    Posted by RACHEL SMITH on 11/2/2016 2:25:00 PM

    The goal of having a Maker Space in the school library is to foster a maker mindset among our students and staff.  That's easier said than done, though.

    In the 2015/2016 school year, the library began to forge a path in this direction.  It started slowly; at first, there were puzzles, coloring, and a 100-cup-structure building challenge.  


    Cups   Coloring




    Then we won the TeacherPreneur Grant from the Great Schools Partnership and things picked up speed.  The influx of new tools, toys, and technology was exciting, but also overwhelming.  How do we begin to offer students the opportunity to visit and use the Maker Space?  How do we make it relevant to classroom curriculum and still let it be fun and engaging for the students?  It was certainly a challenge, but one we were eager to face.

    The students were especially interested in seeing the 3D printers in action, and I was more than willing to accomodate.  I printed and displayed a wide variety of objects, from useful items to decorative pieces.  By the end of the school year, I was even able to help a few students create 3D printed objects that represented the theme of the novel they were studying in English, The Giver


    3D Printers


    3D Printed CMS


    3D Printed Pencil Holder


    Beyond 3D printing, students have also had the chance to try their hands at solving Rubik's Cubes, playing chess, building 3D puzzles, coding with Ozobots, and much more!  This school year, we hope to add more technology and robotics.  We also want to create Maker Carts that will allow our tools and toys to be mobile within the school building, which will hopefully help teachers find more ways to intergrate a Maker Mindset in their classrooms.




    3D Puzzle


    Snap Circuits




    Creating a Maker Space that will be engaging and useful to students is a priority, but finding the time to make it available and ways to make it meaningful are constant challenges.  The ultimate goal is fostering a creative, can-do mindset for students and encouraging a lifelong love of learning.  What better work is there, really?  And what fun!!



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  • Finally, a way in!!

    Posted by KAREN CRAGWALL on 9/19/2016 11:15:00 AM

    "If you build it they will come," doesn't always work.  I publicized, discussed, encouraged and set a date for our first after-school maker session.  And, that's right, no one came.  

    So, after spending a couple of nights tossing and turning, I tried to come up with another idea.  And...I did.  Instead of after school I tried our homeroom time instead.  I advertised for anyone who was interested to come down in the mornings and just play with the "stuff."  I have limited it to 8th graders because now I am gathering some students who are having some fun with my items and they will be my designated moderators and sheriffs.

    So, each morning 5 or 6 students show up, get something to explore, and just sit out in the library playing, that's what they call it.  It doesn't take but about 3 minutes before other students begin gathering around to check out why they are so excited and laughing.  (Today the Makey Makey gave a fist bump to a video, no idea, but they said it happened.)

    One of the questions I have been pondering is 'What will a successful first year look like for me?'  I was envisioning total immersion by the students and faculty because I am an idealist.  I am quickly becoming more of a realist and am taking small steps which is looking much more like how a successful FIRST year should look like.

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  • Ready, Set, Go!

    Posted by MICA JOHNSON on 8/30/2016 10:00:00 AM

    School has started, and we've unpacked our Makerspace supplies. We have a few new ideas for this 9 week rotation. 

    • We started the year with the same cart we finished with in May. I think we should think about this as a practice, because we have had about 3 weeks of library/ computer orientation. If we'd had a new cart, we would have lost several weeks using it, and a 9 week rotation would turn into more of a 5 (ish) week rotation. Since we're familiar with the cart we have now, we can do more in a shorter time period.
    • Origami! We are developing a project using the origami supplies in the Fixed portion of the DIY Lab. Key aspects of the project include: Using Google Docs, Researching Sedako's biography and 1000 cranes, Researching Hiroshima, Folding cranes, and Using the Production Cart to record videos of the 1000 Cranes being folded.
    • Trying new Apps for recording and editing podcasts 


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  • Yikes, 3D filament tip!!!

    Posted by KAREN CRAGWALL on 6/13/2016 1:40:00 PM

    3D printing filament needs to be kept in plastic bags inside latched plastic containers to keep them from becoming brittle.  I will go over to the school this week to check mine to see if there are any instructions, etc.

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  • Curent RET Summer Research at UT

    Posted by KAREN CRAGWALL on 6/7/2016 3:00:00 PM

    After being overwhelmed with stuff and little or no knowledge of how to use it, I applied for this 4-week summer research program at UT in the Engineering Dept.  CURENT is the name of a program that promotes engineering as a career path for students.  With all the Makerspace items this fits well into one of the ultimate goals.

    We are learning about the nation's electrical grid and ways to demonstrate it to students in a fun way they can understand.  It can be used in math and/or science classes and the creators of the grid would also fit in nicely to U.S. History with a study of Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla and George Westinghouse. (probably an end of course activity)

    Because at my school several teachers and students are chomping at the bit to do some 3D printing I am doing a lesson plan in this area.  I will collaborate with different people at UT, research different free software applications and actually print something as an example.

    My 2nd lesson will be using Arduinos to give the students an idea about how DC and AC circuits work.

    And the 3rd lesson will center around using the Squishy Circuits and create cool things to make students go oooo00 and aaaahhhHH.

    I plan to do a quick demo of these for teachers when we first come back to school to entice them into the library with classes and from there find students who want to come for after-school time and dive further into the Makerspace. 

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  • Audio Update

    Posted by MICA JOHNSON on 5/19/2016 11:05:00 AM

    In the 90's KRS-One told us to "be a producer." Twenty years later we took that idea to heart, and created a Production Cart for our Rotating Maker Space. Maybe not in the traditional sense of being a producer, but we are forcing  encouraging students to create and produce original content for podcasts and movies.

    • The following audio file below is 15 minutes of us reflecting on our maker experiences up to this point and where we want to go with it.
    • We learned we do not have the tech skills to produce a polished podcast in a short period of time.
    • The sound at the beginning is us laughing at how awkward we felt which gave us insight into how brave our podcasting students have been to work with this totally new platform and record themselves in our library studio.
    • We will be pros at pocasting very soon.
    • Please check out our student podcast, episode 1.  Episode 2 will be out in about a week (which is how long it will take me to struggle, edit, and prep everything to get it posted)
    • Also, I htink it's important to add that we joke about the struggle being real, and learning all these new things, but we love every bit of it. If we don't continually challenge ourselves, we get bored and complacent and we start missing out on experiences and opportunities to be better humans and better teachers of younger humans.

    DIY Lab Cast



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  • School Library Journal

    Posted by THERESA NIXON on 5/11/2016 12:00:00 PM

    We are published. Begin reading about our journey here....http://www.slj.com/2016/05/technology/mobile-maker-spaces/ 

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  • View our Journey

    Posted by THERESA NIXON on 5/4/2016

    Visit the full site where all four schools will share their journey.....http://knoxschools.org/Page/14044

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