At Lighthouse Community Public Schools, we work with teachers to give students more opportunities to make and tinker. Like our students, we are constantly trying new things and learning as we go.
We want maker education to change education. We want to turn learning over to kids.” – Aaron Vanderwerff, Creativity Lab Director
Integrating making into the classroom is the core focus of our program. We have built the transcontinental railroad when studying westward expansion, used circuit blocks to investigate electricity, and written programs to learn about Cartesian coordinates. We integrate making into content instruction when it supports student to understand at a deeper level.
The program director serves as a curriculum coach, collaborating with teachers to integrate design, making, and an inquiry stance into their practice.
We currently offer a middle school enrichment class and high school electives:
7/8 Making Enrichment—As part of an enrichment wheel, all 7th and 8th grade students take this class for one-third of the year. The focus is on helping students develop autonomy and creativity. Students engage in projects ranging from creating cardboard hands capable of grasping objects, to programming in Scratch, to creating mini-makerspaces for our kindergarten classrooms.
High School Electives—Lighthouse offers two making electives—robotics and making. In the fall, students in both classes are presented with open-ended challenges in order to learn specific objectives. This is followed by open-ended projects where students take the lead and use their skills to develop their own ideas.
The making class starts with skill-builders: a chair, a pillow, a soldering kit, and an introduction to Arduino. In December, students decide on a project they will spend five months creating in order to showcase at the Maker Faire.
In robotics. students start the year with a set of parts and work together to build and program robots to solve challenges. For example, students program robots to follow a black line as a way of learning to use if-then statements. In the second half of the year, students use what they learn to compete in the Botball competition.
The Lighthouse Creativity Lab runs two after-school programs:
K–8 Creativity Lab—Students engage in projects that expose them to new areas of interest. Our K-4 students engage in weekly classes that give them a chance to design and build projects in a variety of media. Middle school students are given the autonomy to explore areas they are excited to learn about.
High School Creativity Lab—After school, our high school space becomes a drop-in makerspace. Students use the space to work on projects their teachers have assigned, create teacher commissioned projects, and explore their own passions.