New Innovation Lab for Makers, Builders, and Doers

Summer 2017

The Bolles School (FL) is joining the maker movement with a new innovation lab on the lower school’s Whitehurst Campus. The lab provides a hands-on resource for all lower school students to practice design, construction, teamwork, communication, and planning. It also allows students to hone other important skills for today’s global workforce.

Michelle Mas, who leads the maker-space lessons on the Whitehurst Campus, says students don’t realize they are learning critical collaboration and creation skills because they are having so much fun.

Each maker challenge is tailored for the grade level of the participating students. Students divide into groups at tables, and Mas begins the class with verbal instructions and then presents each team with written instructions and the materials needed to complete the challenge. Students spend the next 20 minutes or so working as a group to figure out a solution.

“Some groups will finish it, and that’s great. Other groups won’t finish it, and that’s OK, too,” Mas says. “The lesson is as much in completing the project as it is learning effective ways for students to work together, to
communicate with each other, and to be innovative in their approach.”

Each lesson ends with a group discussion about the challenges students faced during the assignment and what they might do differently next time.

The maker movement began in hands-on museums and other learning settings but is now widely embraced in schools around the country. Last summer, the White House hosted its second annual National Week of Making, during which students and individuals in communities throughout the United States were encouraged to celebrate the innovation, ingenuity, and creativity of makers. “Makers and builders and doers—of all ages and backgrounds—have pushed our country forward,” then-President Barack Obama said in his proclamation of the National Week of Making, “developing creative solutions to important challenges and proving that ordinary Americans are capable of achieving the extraordinary when they have access to the resources they need.”