Jackson Elementary School’s media center has a new space aimed at inspiring creativity and teamwork.
The makerspace opened this school year in what was formerly media specialist Carol Cabral’s office. Stocked with a variety of supplies and decorations funded by the Jackson Elementary PTO, students are able to select projects, work on them during the school day and evaluate their progress and performance.
The PTO donated $700 to the makerspace to buy materials.
Cabral said the projects are all related to STEAM subjects — science, technology, engineering, art and math.
“The goal of this is for the students to use STEAM and make things,” Cabral said. “They come in, they have a plan, and then they have to write down their plan and what they’re going to do. And they take all of the things that are in here and use them to create what they’ve drawn.”
Cabral said students self-evaluate their performance in creating their final projects, with the evaluation based on their initial plans.
Each month, Cabral posts a board displaying several projects that students can choose from to make from materials in the room. She said students come to the makerspace weekly.
Projects available include coding on the makerspace’s pair of iPads.
On a recent morning, students in Dawn Smith’s fourth-grade talented and gifted class were woking in two groups to make cat toys. One group was stapling strips of material around dried pasta noodles. Another group was using a water bottle, some feathers and some string.
“The kids have said they would like to come every day,” Smith said.
Cabral said Jackson Elementary teachers can bring a whole class of students, or individual students can come for short periods of time to work with their teacher’s approval.
Cabral added that administrators at the school, including Principal Sheila L. Barlow, Assistant Principal Heather Stamoules and Instructional Coach Emily Marlowe have supported the idea of the makerspace.
“She (Cabral) introduced the idea last year ... and we had some funds left over from the spring fundraiser we wanted to put back into the kids,” said Jackson Elementary PTO member Steven Dudley. “We’re excited for the kids and for the future.”