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Design Thinkers Have Space to Create in New Makerspaces

ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY students have two new makerspaces on campus thanks to a $50,000 grant from the James & Abigail Campbell Family Foundation awarded during the 2021-2022 school year.

“A makerspace is a designated area where folks can gather to share ideas, construct physical objects, and/or engage with computer-aided design programs to rapidly prototype designs of their own creation,” says Jillian Steele, IPA Secondary Design Thinking Department Head. “This is a space for exploration of ideas and for cross-pollination and collaboration between students and subjects to find creative solutions to everyday problems.”

Grade 5 Students Design Elementary Makerspace

Members of the Grade 5 Student Action Committee (SAC) took the lead in designing and developing the Elementary makerspace using project-based learning. They worked to answer the driving question, “How can we, as a Grade 5 Student Action Committee, design a makerspace that will allow students in different grade levels to learn, collaborate, and create projects?”

The six SAC members worked with Sustainability and Innovation Coordinator Katherine Jones and former Elementary School Principal Steve Ross to plan for the makerspace. The students researched other makerspaces, surveyed Elementary faculty to determine how the space would be used, and met with Director of Facilities Mike Armstrong for input. They then created a plan and presented their ideas to the makerspace designer and furniture representatives who then created blueprints and 3D images based on the student’s ideas.

The students also researched supplies and equipment and procured a variety of creative materials including Strawbees, hovercraft, sewing machines, a 3D printer, cooking supplies, and an array of building materials to use in creating models.

The Grade 5 SAC members were truly excited to see their design ideas come to life.

“The Makerspace will impact our school and students by helping them learn in a fun and creative way,” beams IPA Grade 5 Student Action Committee member Jake Okimoto ‘29.

Design Thinking Inspires Secondary Makerspace

Secondary Design Thinking Department Head Jillian Steele and former IPA Secondary principal Dr. Brandy Ann Sato lead a collaborative design process when envisioning and developing the new Secondary makerspace. During the 2021-2022 school year, the team launched the planning and design phase that resulted in a classroom makerspace that is well-suited to meet the needs of all Secondary students and faculty.

In spring 2022, Steele hosted a design thinking event to gather crucial student, parent, administrator, and teacher input central to the Secondary makerspace design. She also conducted surveys and hosted in-class discussions gathering qualitative and quantitative data while working together with Director of Facilities Mike Armstrong, and IPA Secondary faculty.

After the data from all stakeholder groups was gathered and analyzed, the makerspace was designed to answer the driving question, “How might we create a makerspace that allows students to 3D print, do VEX robotics, and Jewelry + Metalsmithing all in the same room in a safe and organized way?”

“Since IPAʻs Secondary curriculum is centered around design thinking, this space serves as the centralized location for ideationand prototyping,” shares Steele.

The Secondary makerspace is equipped with a wide variety of tools and equipment including new furniture (tables and chairs reflecting the design and color choices of IPA Secondary students), electrical upgrades, two desktop computers, a Smart TV, 3D printer, a drill press, and other creative building supplies.

“The central philosophy around this space is to help students bridge the gap between science, technology, engineering, arts, and math,” says Steele. “STEAM is a more inclusive, well-rounded form of STEM – it gives students a non-linear formula to use for most any situation whether it be designing a product or a service.”