By teaching both elementary students and graduate education students in mathematics, I am able to see the importance of grit as a driving force in a growth mindset. When we are posed with challenges, we are given the opportunity to grapple with new information and use our strengths to work towards a specific goal. A makerspace gives students an opportunity to allow students to be creative and passionately pursue areas of interest. It gives students a space to solve problems, invent, and be fiercely resilient which fosters critical thinking.
It’s no secret that there is a lack of women in the STEAM fields. As a math major, I attended many classes where women were the minority. By adding a makerspace to elementary schools, you can expose all students at a young age to this creative outlet. It could open a young girl’s eyes to a new possible career path. There are so many job opportunities that require STEAM, especially coding.
I am currently in the middle of a math dilemma deciding which size swing set that I should buy and where to place it in my L-shaped backyard. For safety reasons, the swingset needs to have a 6 foot perimeter away from any obstructions (garage, fence, wires). Of course, I’d also prefer it not to be in the middle of the backyard. This is precisely the type of area problem I know my students would love to solve! They could use the dimensions to draw scale models, construct a replica, or even generate computer images showing the best possible placement. It is the epitome of math in everyday life!
STEAM requires students to sometimes struggle. In Chapter 11 of Growing a Growth Mindset: Unlocking Character Strengths Through Children’s Literature, we focus on Grit Perseverance for Long-Term Goals using Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty. Students complete a challenge at home prior to reading Iggy Peck, Architect.
Following a discussion on the book, students participate in the “Iggy Peck Design Challenge.” This would be the ideal jumping-off point to a class Genius Hour. I observed students designing, analyzing, evaluating, and constructing many different prototypes. When their initial design was unsuccessful, they discussed why and strategized on how to improve it. Through collaboration, students were able to engineer creative concepts and feel successful (even when they didn’t always get it on the third try).
If you’d like to hear more about the importance of growth mindset in makerspaces, I’ll be speaking as a Higher Education Panelist at SLIME (Students of Long Island Maker Expo) on May 20th.