Three Yellowknife students got a chance to showcase to their school board last week what they’ve been learning in a new type of classroom at Weledeh Catholic School.
Unlike a typical class, “maker space” is filled with gadgets – everything from 3D printers to old sewing machines – and gives students a chance to work on their own inventions using the tools they find around them.
“I’m a really creative person and maker space helps me stretch my creativity to the maximum,” said student Elizabeth Gillard, who spoke to board members with fellow maker space helpers Ann Huynh and Kate Burt last Wednesday.
Gillard said she feels the class could help her with job opportunities in the future.
And her classmates agreed.
“Every job, you have to have a bit of imagination, especially if you’re an inventor,” Huynh said. “If you want to build something, you have to know what you want to build.”
For Burt, maker space allows her to let her imagination run free, she told board members.
“There’s so many things in the class that you can build, touch, make,” she said.
That kind of imagination is the idea teacher Trent Hamm was getting at when he offered to run the class for the first time this year.
“The vision was just to give kids a chance to have a creative avenue, to have a place to be inventive,” he told the board.
It also allows them to delve into the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – while having fun.
But the point isn’t to be successful every time; failing is the most important part of learning in the maker space class, according to Hamm.
Board members wanted to know more about the students’ favourite failures in maker space.
The three students talked about how they tried to build homes, cars and crafts, but struggled to find the right materials to make them work.
“They’re going to fail a thousand times,” Hamm said. “But that’s OK, because when you fail, you learn.”
He said the maker space class has helped alleviate some of the pressure of a regular classroom setting and allowed students to learn at their own pace.
According to Weledeh principal Todd Stewart, who was also in attendance, it’s helping move the school toward 21st century learning.
The students got a big round of applause before John Bowden, assistant superintendent of learning, thanked the students for their courage in sharing their learning experiences with board members.
“That’s part of that being creative and imaginative and thinking on your feet,” he said. “Congratulations on being part of maker spaces and making it a dynamic and exciting place to learn.”