Kids Become Makers in Starkville Schools

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Sudduth Elementary first graders Gianna Russell and Sirita Chanachai build with plastic cups in their Makerspace Friday afternoon – Mary Politz, The Dispatch

Sudduth Elementary librarian Leslie Hunt helped to bring a Makerspace to the school – an area filled with myriad materials that can help to inspire young minds to build, solve problems, and even get some learning in without them even realizing it. “I just started thinking, it would be awesome to have it all in one room for everyone to utilize,” Hunt said. “(The kids) love it with just being creative and it helps them with behavior issues. It is amazing (because) some of the kids … have had difficulty doing certain things, but in here it’s kind of like everyone is on the same level.”  she also noted that students tend to get more creative and imaginative when using simpler materials such as plastic cups and unsharpened pencils.

First grade teacher Mya Floyd said that she makes an effort to book a weekly session in the Makerspace weekly whenever possible. “It helps them analyze and work on communication,” Floyd said. “The communication skills they learn here, they take that back to the classroom in academics. They’ve started working better together in both reading and math and are even helping each other. I love bringing them here … We talk about things that aren’t academic in here. I ask them about their family and weekend, and I get to tell them about myself, too.”

Hunt isn’t the only educator who is helping to bring the concept to local schools. Brandi Burton, Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District grants and innovative strategy specialist, has been working on expanding the program throughout the district: “Maker movement is pretty much across the nation, and we wanted to bring that to Starkville,” Burton said. “The libraries are supposed to be the hub of each of the schools, so that’s where we started.”

Librarians from each of the SOCSD schools met recently to discuss the project. The current hope is to bring a Makerspace, in at least some form, to every school in the district by the end of the school year. For campuses that are short on space, this may simply be a cart packed to bursting with materials, but it’s a start. Burton went on to say, “I think it’s so important for us to join this movement, so that the kids that are hands-on learners and out-of-the-box thinkers, that they have just as much of an advantage as the students that are just academic … We just need to make sure we have opportunities for every type of learner, and with the things that will be available in these spaces, every type of learner will be catered to in some way.”

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