M.LAB: A DIGITAL MAKERSPACE FOR ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS

J. Piedade , J.F. Matos , N. Pedro 

UIDEF - Institute of Education of University of Lisbon (PORTUGAL)
This paper’s proposal presents the Digital Makerspace M-Lab implemented by the Institute of Education of the University of Lisbon. The M-Lab is an action that promotes activities of exploration, research, analysis, and production of physical or virtual artifacts for elementary and secondary students and teachers. Inspired by the principles of learning-by-making proposed by constructionism theory (Papert, 1980), and through the immersion of students in learning scenarios, this space cultivates scientific culture and promote the development of skills in the areas of STEM as well as critical thinking, collaboration, and expression through digital resources.

Organized in several scientific areas of action, the M-lab promotes the students’ and teachers’ engagement in real experiences of complex problem-solving activities mainly through the use of different types of digital technology, robotics, and programable tangible objects.

The M-Lab project promotes two types of training activities:
(i) activities developed with primary and secondary school students; and
(ii) training activities developed with students from initial teacher training courses.

M-Lab provides several types of technologies and equipment’s to support the learning scenarios design and implementation like different types of robots and drones, micro:bit, Arduino and Raspberry Pi Kits, electronic kits, digital cameras, android tablets, and iPads, digital microscope, video capture and production technologies, chromakey, 3D printers, 3D scanner, interactive panel, and others maker-spaces related materials.

The project team consists of specialists in each scientific area who work in the initial teacher training. This team is responsible for the design and evaluation of the learning scenarios implemented both with school students and students of the initial teacher training courses. The totality of the learning scenarios develop will be publicly available on the M-Lab website as a digital repository.

The regular activities of students and teachers in the makerspace will be developed through previous scheduling of space by schools and teachers.

The implementation of the learning scenarios will be systematically monitored with the participants using different data collection instruments. These data will be analyzed in order to analyze the activities carried out and establish the basis for formulating new learning scenarios and problem-solving activities.
Regarding dissemination of the experiences developed in the makerspace, a set of video cases will be produced to report the activities developed and the testimonies of students and teachers.

To conclude, the M-Lab physical space was opened in March 2020 with the participation of the official entities involved and 3 classes of elementary school students. However, the pandemic situation of covid19 caused the suspension of the activities with students, expected to return in September 2021. During this critical period, several training initiatives took place for the project team and students of initial teacher training courses.