Foster Elementary School: Home of Matt
Not only is Foster Elementary School Matt’s alma mater, but it was one of our first Matt’s Maker Spaces to open in 2016! As an elementary school, they have the challenges of tiny hands and big imaginations, but that only translates into magic (and sometimes a mess) in their large classroom attached to their library.
When designing their space, it was important to give students lots of opportunities to learn in a variety of ways. “We wanted it to be kid-friendly, colorful, safe, and accessible,” states Bridget Belardi, their librarian and Maker Space Curator. The space includes technology such as laser cutters, wood carvers, 3D printers, and also a textile corner, recycled materials space, a place for building materials, Lego wall, sewing corner, electrical bins, robotics cabinet and so much more. One of their projects has been laser cutting a circular, repeating pattern that the students have coded themselves to use to design coasters, keychains, and ornaments. Other projects have included turning old t-shirts into pillows, creating an entire cardboard dollhouse (stick characters included), and learning embroidery.
Foster Elementary recently finished their Maker March, where they offered maker space programming for the entire month. Although the first part of the month was all online, there were plenty of activities for the children to do at home. Projects included creating boats that could float as well as creating 3D sculptures out of household materials. Students also had the opportunity to practice programming at-home during “Family Night of Code'' through pre-recorded video tutorials and follow-along activities sent out to the kids to do with their family.
Their space is available for individual teachers to sign up to use during their classes. Students may also sign up to come in before or after school and during library classes. The space is used by students most during lunch time, during the daily “tinker time” where students can come in and participate in their own or directed activities.
As one of our “oldest” Matt’s Maker Space’s, Foster Elementary has greatly helped in expanding and creating maker learning opportunities for students. As Bridget says, “you have to really put some of the leadership in the kids, and listen to what they say and what their ideas are.” The beauty in a Matt’s Maker Space is that everyone is helping each other to learn together. Learning with the kids, tailoring the work to their interests, and Fail it Forward are just some words of inspiration Bridget shared on the values of Foster Elementary’s Matt’s Maker Space.