FABClassroom Spotlight: Castle Rock Middle School & Yvonne Miller

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Meet Yvonne Miller from Castle Rock Middle School in Castle Rock, Colorado. The school has a makerspace library filled with resources and tools for students and teachers to use. They recently added Fab@School Maker Studio, a digital design and fabrication program, to space. We asked Yvonne to share more about how they are applying this software into their school curriculum.

Can you share a bit about your library makerspace and programming?

For the past 3 and a half years, we have been on a mission to transform our traditional library to a dynamic space for students. Students will have access to world-class tools, innovative spaces, comprehensive resources, and 21st Century instructional support. We started our Library MakerSpace with donations of recycled and consumable materials. Today, we have 3D printers, littleBits and MakeyMakey products, robotics, a CNC machine, and a 2D fabricator. Recently, with the generous donation from the Morgridge Family Foundation, we were able to add the Fab@School Maker Studio software, four additional Silhouette machines, and receive training on the software as well. The space has supported students and staff in numerous projects, and it has been wonderful to witness excited and engaged students learn about the potential of a MakerSpace.

Our school has adopted the mindsets of Design Thinking as our constructivist model of instruction. Every student attends a class called InnoV8 where they learn about the Design Thinking Process and apply it to authentic problems and designs for human needs.

How are the students at Castle Rock Middle School using Fab@School Maker Studio?

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Students use Fab@School Maker Studio as part of the prototyping process in their Design Thinking curriculum. Currently, all 8th grade students are engaging in a Sustainability Project in their Science classes. They are learning about sustainable living, energy transfer, natural resources, and human environment interactions. They have been challenged to design a tiny home in a specific location and for specific users. For example, an environmentalist who lives in a Portland, Maine, or a pet rescue family who lives in Buffalo, New York. Students will build spaces that must be proportionally correct and includes the amenities of a tiny home. They will be using Fab@School Maker Studio to design the interior of the tiny home, receive feedback about their designs, then iterate any components needed for the tiny home.

We are also using Fab@School Maker Studio in numerous different ways. We had a team of 7th graders use Fab@School Maker Studio to design a school during a Mars Challenge. They’ve also created a game incorporating math concepts for their Math Challenge activity. Our World Cultures teacher also used Fab@School Maker Studio during a study of a Japanese culture and paper folding.

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What has been the “aha” moment working with Fab@School?

 

The spatial awareness and critical thinking necessary to design a 3D project is challenging to say the least. Students also found it challenging to mentally deconstruct a 3D object to a 2D design. Students with strong visual spatial skills have an easier time with the design, compared to those who think in pictures. There is definitely a lot of metacognition and visible thinking going on, and we appreciate the ready-made objects as a learning tool to take the designs even further.  But the challenge is real.

What is next?

I hope our students make it a routine to use Fab@School Maker Studio while prototyping their designs. It fosters and promotes the mindset of rapid prototyping and helps build the maker culture, all while supporting instruction with Design Thinking.

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