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Support Making at Pittsburgh Public Schools

Shaun Tomaszewski, Pittsburgh Public Schools

Shaun Tomaszewski, Pittsburgh Public Schools

Help us work with more schools! Five Pittsburgh-area schools need to meet their fundraising goalson Kickstarter by Monday, November 2, in order to create their own makerspaces and partner with Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. The Kickstarting Making program, a collaboration between the Children’s Museum and Kickstarter, encompasses 10 schools that want to integrate making, or hands-on learning with old and new technologies.  Each of the 10 schools that meets their goal will receive professional development from the Children’s Museum, design services that provide furniture plans and inventories for custom makerspaces, as well as equipment, supplies and furniture, all in the spirit of MAKESHOP.

Five schools have met their goals so far, so this week we are featuring an educator from the schools still fundraising.  You can learn about all of the Kickstarting Making Programs, and add your support to the campaigns, at www.kickstarter.com/pages/pghkidsmake.  

Read on to learn about one of the educators from a Kickstarting Making schools:

Pittsburgh Lincoln PreK-5

Pittsburgh Lincoln Outdoor Makerspace

Seeking to transform an outdoor space into a maker-centered outdoor learning environment for inner city youth.

What is your role and how long have you been with the school?

My name is Shaun Tomaszewski and I am the K-12 STEAM Coordinator. I’ve been in this role for 8 months

How do you define making and why do you think it’s an important instructional strategy? 

Making looks like authentic inquiry, where students are engaged around a central question or problem and are responding by “making” new cognitive structures.  This is the core of making.  Hence, whether students are growing vegetables, building robots, coding an app, or developing a research program, they are making, because they are learning. 

How will the campaign provide you with the support you need to integrate making at your school?

At Pittsburgh Lincoln, the faculty and staff have worked hard to develop authentic project-based learning experiences for students.  As we ideate around how we could further enhance our students’ learning, we want to be able to take them outside, into the real world, so that they can contextualize their world while they’re out in it.

How will integrating making benefit you?  

At Pittsburgh Public Schools, we’ve experienced first-hand how shifting instruction and learning into more maker-centric STEAM frameworks can make educating children a truly joyful experience. One of our teachers began the school year with a hands-on lesson, wherein students were required to create a solution to a problem.  The teacher was anxious about not discussing classroom rules and expectations with the students, before the lesson, but we quickly realized that meaningful engagement around “making” experiences trumps traditional behaviorist approaches to building classroom culture.

 How will integrating making benefit your students?

“Making” practices are effective entry points for students into the learning process. Whether students are learning about the ecosystems in their neighborhood, the blu-ray player in their apartment, or the history of their region, viewing the learning process through a maker lens engages students in ways that are not possible in more traditional settings. Subsequently, making practice can be incorporated into assessment strategies, so that students are able to create meaningful products that represent deep understanding of the concept or process being studied.

View Pittsburgh Lincoln’s campaign and make a contribution here

Teresa is the Kickstarting Making Program Manager, developing sustainable models to crowdfund makerspaces for school environments.

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