Training teachers in Rato Bangala School
In the context of schools, a Maker Space is a space to tinker, be interactive and where the approach is open-ended and learner driven. The space is a safe environment to allow maximum ownership, experimentation, play, discovery, reiteration, reflection, and learning for the students. It is an interdisciplinary space where divisions between subjects like Math, Science and Arts blurs, making them an excellent, physical space for STEAM education.
In such Maker Spaces, the teachers are facilitators and learners in the space, rather than leaders or experts. Their role is mainly to inspire students to explore and help them find their answers. Most teachers might find the idea of a Maker Space intimidating. It can be challenging, to maintain a balance between letting kids explore and discover on their own and guiding them towards their goal. In a Maker Space, the teacher will have to accept that they do not have all the answers and that they are learners and makers themselves in that space. The best they can do is be prepared.
From early July to mid-September 2018, we helped teachers be prepared. For the first time in #MakerKT’s history, we were invited to design a customised workshop for Rato Bangala School (RBS). RBS had recently created a new Maker Space to focus on Tech and Engineering (they already have other art, computer, clay and wood related Maker Spaces). However, except for the computer teacher, other teachers did not have any experience with anything tech related. Therefore, we developed a 15-session workshop designed to give the teachers a crash course in coding and programming.
The workshops familiarised them with the tools and the process of ‘making’ so that they are be able to incorporate ‘making’ elements into their curriculum and be able to actively engage with their students. The workshops consisted of sessions on Scratch, AppInventor, Arduino, C-Coding, Soldering and a final project. Each new workshop built up on the previous workshop and culminated into a final project, the Master Piece. Along the way, the teachers also learned the process of logical thinking and soldering!
For the final project, the teachers were split up into six groups, each using a different sensor: Motion, Colour, Ultra Sonic, Pressure, Temperature and Heartbeat. Using their sensors and their new coding knowledge the teachers made a white dress fitted with LED strips glow in different colours based on how they programmed their individual sensors. This master piece dress, fitted on a mannequin, has been put in permanent display at their new tech Maker Space.
To round off the workshop series, we sat with the teachers and brainstormed on how they could take what they had learnt in the workshops and apply it to their classrooms. The teachers were able to take apart the various aspects of the training and customise it according to the grade and the curriculum content.
It was a wonderful experience to work hands-on with teachers who took up the challenge to learn something so completely different and initially daunting and to make it all the way to the end with pretty LED colours! We hope the new maker space is in full swing and that the master piece created is an inspiration for all who use the space.
A heartfelt thank you to instructors Prathana and Pradita, and to Shivani and Aavas (They run Junkiri, check them out!) without whom this would not have been at all possible! And a big thank you to Rato Bangala School for trusting us to do this work!