This spring, all three elementary schools in the Holland Christian School Association in Holland, Michigan, participated in Makers Week. Each day, students spent two hours in different Makers Movement classes, focusing on problems to solve and given the freedom to collaborate, fail, improve on ideas, and create solutions.
The Makers Movement encourages hands-on learning rather than the "sit and get" model of instruction. Students collaborate and problem solve using science, technology, engineering, and mathematical concepts.
Students at Rose Park, Pine Ridge, and South Side Christian were offered a total of around one dozen projects from which to choose and were asked to select four projects that most intrigued them. Class lists were developed not around the ages of the children but by interest in the project. Each morning, children worked together to solve a variety of problems, working with all kinds of materials. Teachers served as coaches rather than instructors.
Miska Rynsburger, principal and first-grade teacher at South Side Christian, spearheaded the project. “I read about the Makers Movement and attended several workshops and thought that perhaps a trial run of one week would be a good way for staff, students, and families to be introduced to this learning model,” she said. “We fell in love with the high level of engagement, thought, resilience, and problem solving we witnessed in our learners that week. Parents were overjoyed to hear the energetic stories from their children who couldn't wait to return to school the next day for more of this hands-on learning.”
Rynsburger was asked to speak at the White House last summer and participate in a Makers Movement in Education roundtable. “Through that experience I understood more clearly how important it is for our children to have ongoing Make experiences,” she said. “We are created in the image of a creative God. The Bible begins with God as the ultimate creator. He designed children not to sit quietly in desks, but to get up, explore, question, think in community, and build.
“We currently have a Makerspace in our building where children are constantly engaging in Make activities. Next year we will also introduce a teacher as a Makerspace coordinator to procure supplies, ideas, and projects,” said Rynsburger.