Making a STEAM-Powered Elementary School

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Participate and share : Poster

Gerald Aungst  
Nicolas Perez  

Learn how a Pennsylvania elementary school has built a makerspace program blending STEAM content with project-based learning and design thinking that reaches every student in the school. Find out how to implement a rich, vibrant elementary makerspace no matter what facilities, resources and materials you have available.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Principals/head teachers, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Topic: Maker activities & programs
Grade level: PK-5
Subject area: STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.
  • Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

A makerspace can be a powerful resource to support learning in an elementary school, but much of the available literature focuses on secondary settings. The goal of this session is to provide participants with information and resources to help them develop a K-5 makerspace that supports learning and academic growth not just in STEM but across the curriculum. We will share digital and analog technology resources such as Kidspark STEM kits, Keva planks, a 3D printer, a Cricut Maker machine, and various robots that form the foundation of our program as well as tools we have developed for planning and instruction in the space. We will also discuss the design thinking framework from Stanford University that we use as the underlying structure of all our lessons. In just 4 years we have been able to build a program where all 400 students in the school have access to multiple opportunities every year to engage with the tools in the space.

Supporting research

Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary S Stager. (2019). Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom (2nd ed.)

Laura Fleming. (2017). The Kickstart Guide to Making GREAT Makerspaces.

Erica Rosenfeld Halverson & Kimberly M. Sheridan. (Winter 2014). The Maker Movement in Education. Harvard Educational Review, vol 84, no 4.

Lee Martin. (2015). The Promise of the Maker Movement for Education. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research (JPEER): Vol. 5: Iss. 1, Article 4.

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Gerald Aungst, Cheltenham School District
Nicolas Perez, Cheltenham School District

21 years as an educator and school administrator in both urban and suburban school districts. Principal of Cheltenham Elementary in Cheltenham School District, PA since 2014

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