In the last two posts, I’ve talked about our “makerspace” at Advanced Learning Academy, Zorro Astuto Studio, and how we have incorporated a new badging system. Today I wanted to give an overview of how the space is used.
ALA at Fox Tech serves students in grades 4-12. Zorro Astuto is located on the 3rd floor, where we currently house grades 6-12. Our goal is to give all of our students access in some way to this unique area for creation. Because there are many tools that need training and supervision, this can be a bit tricky.
The first way that we give students access is through classes they can take. Grades 4/5 have are currently doing a 3d design class using Tinkercad (1/2 are doing it first semester, and 1/2 will do it next semester). They are taking the classes in another room, but will be learning how to use the 3d printers that we have in Zorro Astuto and one that is in their wing.
6th and 7th graders can choose from 9 week electives that we are offering such as: Intro to Design Lab, Carpentry, Robotics, 3d Design, and Electronics.
8th-12th graders can also choose from these electives, which also utilize tools in Zorro Astuto in Project Based Learning activities: Principles of Applied Engineering, Principles of Arts, and Engineering Design and Presentation.
The second way students may use Zorro Astuto is through interdisciplinary projects within their other classes. ALA offers Genius Hour, Wonder Courses, Tech Theater, and opportunities within core subjects to create artifacts that often involve fabrication on all levels. In addition, we offered several “Teacher Tool-Ups” at the end of last school year to introduce some of the tools to teachers so they could consider possibilities for future Project Based Learning products.
And, lastly, we have Open Studio time twice a week after school. For an hour and a half on Mondays and Thursdays, students who have signed Safety Contracts can come to Zorro Astuto to make whatever they want from the scraps we have. Whether they are in a registered class or not, they are welcome to get certified on our tools and to use them for passion projects or school assignments.
In these ways, we hope that every student at ALA is inspired to learn and create. As most teachers know, technology and required skills may change over time, but problem solving and creativity will always be needed.