There was ingenuity and imagination at work in Westfield Public Schools as students enjoyed makerspace activities in recognition of New Jersey Makers Day, a statewide celebration that has taken place every March for the past five years.
At Roosevelt Intermediate School, there were robots to program and conductive play dough to teach the basics about electrical circuits and 3D Doodle pens to create designs in midair with heated plastic from the pen’s nozzle. There were Makey Makey stations with simple circuits, alligator clips and conductive fruits and vegetables, along with snap circuits with specific challenge cards.
“Or you can just snap the little pieces together to see what you come up with,” said Roosevelt library media specialist Megan Lynn as she encouraged students in grades 6-8 to explore and create during visits to the library makerspace on March 20-22.
At Jefferson Elementary School, fifth graders were presented with three different Makerspace challenges. Some students used recycled materials and lots of tape to build a Marble Run that could outlast any others. Others viewed simple Rube Goldberg chain reactions, then used dominoes, matchbox cars, Legos, and other materials to design runs with the most transfers of potential energy. And, in Fun with Catapults, the students designed simple catapults using rubber bands, popsicle sticks and bottlecaps, testing and revising their creations while trying out their prototypes playing “Connect Four Shots” and “Ping Pong Paint.”
“The paint catapulting required many revisions to accommodate the weight of the paint on the ping pong balls,” said Jefferson art teacher Tracy Ciotti, who designed the maker activities earlier in March.
“Students work in teams and are presented with a problem to solve. They brainstorm ideas, formulate plans, create a prototype, or several prototypes, test them, revise the plan, and repeat,” Ciotti adds. “Kids are encouraged to think outside the box and use the materials in the room in whatever creative ways they come up with, to solve the problem