University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Page: 1560 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
As students prepare to be 21st century global citizens, it is crucial that they see the connections between what they are learning in school and what they see as a future for themselves and their families. We as educators help them answer questions such as how can I support myself, how can I support a family, what kinds of preparation do I need to be a contributing member of my community, how can I expand my goals to include a global perspective and how can I develop my ideas so they become reality. An entrepreneurial spirit can be cultivated in students through activities that a Makerspace can provide. The Makerspace ( movement has taken entrepreneurism by storm, and offers the opportunity for children, teacher candidates, teachers, community mentors and university faculty to engage in innovative instruction that connects creative efforts using all levels of technology.

The purpose of this project, known as Family WORKS, is to bring together middle school age students (ages 11-14) with diverse learning abilities, their families, and their teachers, along with teacher candidates working in their school’s classrooms, in exploring, researching, designing, creating and producing products that support first steps toward entrepreneurial activities connected to curriculum and community. In this project,15 middle school students and members of their families work with project teachers, teacher candidates, university faculty, and community mentors to create products that will be researched, designed and produced in our School of Education Makerspace. The project also includes opportunities for students, their families and teachers, and teacher candidates to become involved with community organizations that support entrepreneurism and creative activities supported by organizations such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).

Examples of project activities include those such as monthly student teacher family meetings with the project community mentors, meetings with local designers, professional development for teachers connecting US Common Core (Math and English Language Arts) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to creativity in and outside the classroom, teacher candidate service-learning and leadership activities, and “field trips” to area design companies and small businesses. A project website has been created and maintained as a resource for students, families and teachers. The community mentors include community members with expertise in entrepreneurism, design, and engineering. Examples of current student-created, student-led projects include a pump system to run models created from building sets (such as the commercial brand Lego); a toy caterpillar, completely built by the student, that is run by a remote control, and a doll that is “genderless” opening up opportunities to remove gender stereotyping in doll play. These products are the primary student outcome that could be marketable either in an “online” store for global connectivity, or a small entrepreneurial business. With feedback from community mentors, teachers, teacher candidates, and university faculty, students create a product they are excited to call their own. Partnerships are created across the community and we see many future opportunities to expand the instructional and service activities across our Makerspace project.
Instructional innovation and creativity, community engagement.