Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary third-grader Haley Boyd, 10, starts piecing together K'Nex during her Makerspace time at HWS library Friday. Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District received a $120,000 grant geared toward increasing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Haley's parents are Kim and Brian Boyd. Photo by: Mary Pollitz/Dispatch Staff
Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary third-grader Will Goff, 9, pulls Legos from a box during his Makerspace time at HWS library Friday morning. Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District received $120,000 grant geared toward increasing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. By next school year, HWS, Sudduth Elementary, Overstreet Elementary and Armstrong Middle School will expand its Makerspace centers in an effort to increase STEM education. Will's parents are Bobby and Jessika Goff.
Photo by: Mary Pollitz/Dispatch Staff
May 20, 2019 9:33:30 AM
Haley Boyd, 10, sat silently at her table in the Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary library Friday waiting for her name to be called.
Whenever HWS librarian Elizabeth Lott called the students at her table, Boyd walked toward a cart chock-full with Makerspace activities, including Legos, K'nex and other hands-on manipulatives. Boyd had her eye on a K'Nex set and quickly sat down to start her project.
"I'm making a thing with eyeballs," Boyd said. "I like making the different shapes. I also like to build candlesticks or little puppy dogs."
By next year, Boyd and students from HWS, Sudduth Elementary, Overstreet Elementary and Armstrong Middle School will have classrooms and libraries expanded into Makerspaces thanks to a $120,000 grant Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District received from the Mississippi Department of Education. Each school will receive $30,000 toward each Makerspace. SOCSD was one of 15 school districts to receive the grant geared toward advancing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.
Sudduth, which started its Makerspace earlier this year in one classroom, will serve as a model for OES, HWS and AMS in the coming months. A Makerspace is a center designed to teach children imagination and learning through hands-on manipulates and technology.
"We want all of these awesome things we are exposing them to inform them on the possibilities of if they choose a STEM career," said Brandi Burton, SOCSD grants and innovative strategies specialist who applied for the funds. "Makerspaces hasn't really had a big following in Mississippi yet, so we are kind of the frontrunners in that way.
"It is really coming at a perfect time since we were getting into Makerspaces," she added. "We had already started making plans on how we were going to use Sudduth as a model and have a Makerspace in every building. It's just going to get us closer to our goal."
HWS Principal Julie Fancher said the Makerspaces already on campus have changed the way students view the library.
"Old-school, you think about going to the library, checking out a book and being quiet," Fancher said. "Those days are over. We want our media centers to build a love for learning through reading, but also how you can tie in the books and reading to hands-on experiences."
In the classroom
Burton said, with the grant, Makerspaces at SOCSD will expand from hands-on manipulates, such as blocks and cups, to more high-tech projects such as robots, 3D printers, drones, green screens and more. With each grade, technology and coding projects will become more advanced for the students.
Fancher has already reserved a classroom designed to meet all her students' needs in her Makerspace called "Innovation Station."
"We are excited," Fancher said. "Because we know our possibilities are endless. We want to get things in our children's hands to build, but all of those things costs money. Research tells us our kids love visual stimulation and hands-on activities. That's what we need to do. This is part of our goal, we want our kids to be college and career ready."
HWS third-grader Will Goff, 9, loves to build. Whenever he has free time during library, he typically reaches for a box of Legos and lets his imagination take over.
"We're building a baseball field," Goff said. "... It's fun, because building is one of my favorite things to do."
For Lott, building a child's imagination and stimulating them with hands-on projects goes well beyond the project itself.
"They are really good at doing creative activities," Lott said. "I think it's fun. It's creative. They are building their imagination. There is sequence involved, and that goes in with reading. Math is involved with angles and geometry. I wondered how it was going to work at first, but we just kind of fell in and the kids really love it."
While building with her K'Nex, Boyd said having these activities has helped her even in her classroom as well.
"I think it's very fun working with other people," Boyd said. "I feel like it really helps working in centers to work together because you have to learn how to work together."
Burton found out Monday SOCSD received the grant and has already started making lists for each school's Makerspace.
"I was so excited and I don't think my feet have touched the ground yet," Burton said. "It's so awesome because it's a vision (SOCSD Superintendent Eddie) Peasant has had. With us already having a little foundation on Makerspace, now being able to pour $120,000 into it, it's put us ahead of the game and exposes these students to amazing opportunities that otherwise they wouldn't have the opportunity to.
"If you imagine it, we can make it happen," she added. "That's what Makerspace does, it fuels and captivates your imagination."
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