The Library at Lincoln Elementary is about to include “Meekma’s Makerspaces!” What exactly does that mean, and why is it exciting? The answer is both simple and complex. ‘Makerspaces’ began to appear about a decade ago with the growth and popularity of the DIY (Do It Yourself) movement. It’s easy to imagine a group of crafty folks or creative designers gathering to share ideas and make something new.
It didn’t take long for educators to realize that there is value in a Makerspace environment. Educators gravitated to putting the concept of Makerspaces into practice, particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Education, Mathmatics) areas.
Lincoln Librarian, Debra Meekma saw beyond the sometimes more advanced tools being used to create elaborate Makerspaces, like digital printers, all the way to the very heart of the idea. “If small groups of students get together and start to think outside the box and learn to look at making things with unique or unusual items, they will really be learning a host of skills they’ll need in the future,” said Mrs. Meekma. “They will be learning problem solving, the value of team work, and collaboration skills. There really is no telling how far they could take a project or how creative they could get.”
After investigating the possibilities of a Makerspace for Lincoln, and thinking over the summer about the potential of such a program for Lincoln students, Mrs. Meekma sought the advice, counsel and support of Principal Melissa Walley. “Debra is one of those people who always puts in extra hours, makes an extra effort and goes above and beyond for our students,” said Walley. “She definitely has my support.”
The first needs identified by Mrs. Meekma were a few tools for the project, namely an Osmo and a Zoob Challenge. If those two items sound unfamiliar to you, you are not alone! Mrs. Meekma explained both of them; Zoob Challenge kits are STEM learning collections that challenge students to build things using only specified items. “I plan to use the Zoob Challenge to give the students a problem to solve where they will have to use the materials involved. They will have to brainstorm and work as a group to figure out the answer,” she said. Mrs. Meekma describes the Osmo as a wonderful little gadget that connects to an I-pad doc and allows students to enjoy a number of different activities. There are tangrams to solve, a physics game, various puzzles and even a mode for creating artistic masterpieces. The Makerspaces will also include a lego wall station and solo cup challenge station that will encourage teamwork, listening to new ideas and considering the input of each individual on the 3 to 4 member teams. Mrs. Meekma has even thought about her youngest learners. For them, it might be as simple as a craft project with cotton balls or yarn where students create something out of the ordinary using ordinary things.
The second hurdle for the Meekma Makerspaces project was funding for those items needed to create the stations. That problem was solved through a ‘Donors Choose,’ grant that will allow for the purchase of the Zoob Challenge and Osmo tools. While the logistics of how Makerspace time can be found in an already tight school day are still being discussed, Meekma is confident the project will see a trial run later this year and hopes the program can begin in earnest for the 2016-2017 academic year.
What excites Mrs. Meekma the most? “These Makerspace stations will really enable students who don’t necessarily fit into traditional learning and extracurricular models to find their place. I want to spark new interests and I want to give every student a place to shine!” Her excitement is contagious and her students are lucky because Meekma’s Makerspaces is coming and learning will be fun and students probably won’t even realize that they are developing valuable life lessons along with STEM concepts.
Getting to Know Principal Walley
Melissa Walley brought many years of teaching experience to Lincoln Elementary when she first arrived as Assistant Principal in August of 2012. Mrs. Walley previously taught at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Chicago, as well as serving the School City of Hobart for thirteen years. She is a native of Crown Point and continues to reside in her hometown with husband Dennis and two daughters, Hannah and Ella.
Mrs. Walley earned an Associate’s Degree in Early Education, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Purdue University Calumet. “I believe that one of the most important and exciting things an educator can do is to keep learning,” says Walley.
She is an avid reader and brings her love of reading and learning to all of the students at Lincoln Elementary School. “I want the very best for Lincoln Students. I believe that all children can achieve success with appropriate support, and should always feel successful as they learn and grow.” Mrs. Walley’s distinctive approach to leading and learning has brought unique opportunities to Lincoln students where dogs teach manners, gorillas encourage kindness and smiles are found in hallways and classrooms. You can follow the adventures of Mrs. Walley and her students on Facebook!
There will be an informational Kindergarten parent meeting for all families who have an incoming Lincoln Elementary School kindergarten student attending for the 2016-2017 academic year. The meeting will be on March 9th at 6:00 p.m. in the Lincoln Elementary School cafeteria. Please park in the rear parking lot and enter through Door F.
We strongly encourage all new incoming kindergarten parents/guardians to attend. If you are unable to attend, please send someone in your place to obtain all the important information that will be presented. Appointment times to register incoming Kindergarten students will also be scheduled during this meeting.