Students at Carl Cozier Elementary School now have the opportunity to participate in a library makerspace lab thanks to a grant from the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation.
Library media specialist Emily Jones applied for the grant to create a makerspace lab and to provide equitable resources to students interested in science, technology, engineering, arts and math, often referred to as STEAM. A makerspace is a place where people with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment and knowledge. Youth-oriented STEAM materials include Magna-tiles, Legos, Makey Makeys, 3D Printing Pens and K’nex.
“As a library media specialist at a Title I elementary school, I see how essential STEAM materials are for kids who may not have access at home,” Jones said. “By providing students as young as kindergarten with materials that ask them to solve problems, work together, construct, deconstruct, fail and try again, we are building a team of future engineers, designers, mathematicians, scientists and artists.”
At Carl Cozier, more than half of the students qualify for free or reduced school meals. Jones said her primary goal through the grant was to promote equity by introducing students to high quality STEAM materials. In addition to the supplies for the makerspace lab, the grant also provides funding for flexible seating. Flexible seating options allow students to work on the floor, seated in small groups in comfortable chairs, or at tables.
The makerspace lab at Carl Cozier is open in the library to students to drop in during the mornings from 7:30 to 8 a.m. An after-school makerspace lab is available through registration and has a capacity of 30 students in K-2 and 30 students in grades 3-5. These after school offerings differ from the morning program in that lessons and materials specifically target key strategies in computational thinking, engineering and design. A school-wide family engagement night in late April will focus on the library makerspace.
“Introducing students at an early age to computer science, engineering and design helps them to become technologically adept and knowledgeable about the possibilities in the field of STEAM,” Jones said.