Stories from the Field

Lessons Learned: Students Own Their STEM Learning in a Makerspace

Jodi Decuf is a STEAM educator at MacGregor Elementary School in Bay City, Mich. She recently received an NEA Foundation Student Achievement grant to create a makerspace to engage students in learning about the engineering design process. Here’s what she had to say about her project and its impact.

Tell us a little about your project.

With a makerspace focused on STEM concepts, students can have “real world” learning experiences. They have been designing, collaborating, inventing, and building artifacts to solve problems through personally meaningful activities. They continue to use the engineering design process (ask, imagine, plan, create and improve) to complete various challenges and explore future career options that pique their interests.

How does this project help your students?

As a result of this grant, my students are on a better path to becoming career and/or college ready. The makerspace gives the students an opportunity to communicate and collaborate, problem solve and creatively approach engineering challenges. “Real world” situations help them practice and build upon these skills to better prepare themselves for their futures.

The most successful aspect of this project has been the tremendous increase in student engagement in the kindergarten through 5th grade students. They look forward to their makerspace challenges and really take ownership over their learning. This has been a very worthwhile project to administer in my classroom and I plan on continuing this model each school year.

What do your students say about the project?

The students love that they get to choose the project to work on during their makerspace time.

What inspires you most about your work?

I love the challenges of working with kindergarten through 5th grade students every day.

There’s still time to apply for an NEA Foundation grant of your very own! The application deadline for Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership grants is February 1st. For help developing your proposal, be sure to check out our grant-writing tutorial.

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