Friday, March 25, 2016

The Making of a Makerspace - Part 2 The World Clock Challenge

The second in a series which chronicles the evolution of The STEAM Makerspace.


As mentioned in the first post of this series, the Makerspace at STEAM Middle School started with nothing more than cardboard (a lot of cardboard) and donations of craft items. As we were nearing the end of September, I wanted to come up with an event that would highlight the makerspace and its purpose at STEAM.

For the past several years in October, The Imagination Foundation has hosted a Global Cardboard Challenge for schools and communities to come together and create - using cardboard! I decided to host our own cardboard challenge - The STEAM World Clock Challenge. I got the inspiration from Michael Buist's Instagram. Early in the school year, his students were creating all kinds of cardboard creations and this clock stood out to me - a real working clock made out of cardboard!
Visit Michael Buist's Instagram for more inspiration!

I set up a webpage detailing the rules and guidelines, students made posters, and we got to work!


One of the things the students struggled with was the design process. They want to jump in and start hacking at the cardboard without laying it out on graph paper first. I required an initial sketch-up of their plan but then allowed them to change and modify as they went along. Many were surprised at how difficult cardboard is to work with:

  •  It's hard to cut with our limited collection of tools so they had to keep it simple. 
  • Cardboard can be strong or weak, depending on where and how you cut it. 
  • When it's painted it curls and shrinks. 

The clocks were constructed entirely of cardboard, but the clock works were purchased at a local hobby store for less than $10.00. Many students bought their own. 

This project spurred a lot of interest in the makerspace and brought a lot of new faces throughout the day. Students were curious about all of the construction going on. 

The final display looked great! All of the clocks were set to the time zone of their city/country that their clock represented.

Finally, we had parents, teachers, and staff vote to determine 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. Our PTO donated gift cards to the local hobby store.


The object of the challenge was to create a clock that represents a city or country. We had several countries represented, but a few of the students chose to stay closer to home with Texas-themed clocks. The overall participation was low for several reasons:
  • Some didn't have enough time to work on it at school
  • Some were afraid to take risks and try
Future events like this might be more successful if parents are involved. They could help after school or we might do a  special family Saturday work day. Also, the makerspace was a new concept to our students and they really didn't understand that there was a place in our school where they could make and create. These are things to think about and make it better for next year. 


Stay tuned...

The Making a Makerspace - Part 3:  The purchase orders are approved! 

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