Makers from Home

Written by Mariana Litvin,  IdeaLab Coordinator at CIM-ORT Mexico. 

The IdeaLab is an educational space innovating the concept of Learning by Doing. Part of the lab is a Makerspace, where students work with tools for digital manufacturing, electronics, wood and metal manufacturing, robotics, and 3D printing among others. Before lockdown, the lab was used every day by students of all ages, to complement their classwork.

The Makerspace shows students how they can convert knowledge and ideas into practical projects, to learn by doing, and to see how what they study at school can be applied to the real world.

Like everything in our lives before March 2020, the Makerspace had to adapt to continue to give our students the tools and knowledge for which it was designed.

So, our team began the process of developing new activities best suited to the “world from home.”

With great creativity, the team dedicated itself to developing new STEAM activities in project-based learning (PBL) in which students explored science, technology, engineering, social sciences and mathematics all from their own homes using Zoom, guided by CIM-ORT’s Maker Advisors.

And how did we adapt from instruction in a physical space with so many tools, to individual homes with limited technology and resources?

All the new activities included dynamics that favor experimentation and curiosity, using only elements found at home. We created science experiments, new home challenges and projects such as building models and prototypes.

We made use of software that is accessible from home to complement projects in 3D design, programming, information research and graphic design, among others.

We also worked with students to help them present their final projects. Using virtual environments, for example Tinkercad and Artsteps, students designed their own virtual galleries, Canvas, and much more.

We adapted the projects not only through digitizing the information, but through providing different visual resources, ranging from videos to interactive games, though an LMS.

Our aim was to create resources which could be used long term, beyond the current situation of lockdown. So, we delivered digital resources tailored to our academic interests in PBL, leaving behind the books and materials that could not support interdisciplinary projects, to elevate study and quality of learning.

Likewise, we complement the projects with the participation of experts, through interviews and interactions by Zoom, virtual visits to museums and galleries, cooking classes, among others.

Overall, the students were able to continue developing digital and making skills from their own homes. At the same time, the importance of soft skills was also preserved, as we worked to incorporate teamwork, problem solving and tolerance to frustration in all our materials.

Most significantly, we also included questions for student reflection, and at the end, we the educators reflected on where we started and where we ended up, to see what was achieved in the virtual class and how it supported the learning overall.