The Burgettstown Area School District has formed an exciting partnership with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to bring making, or hands-on learning with old and new technologies, to our school. Funds raised by this campaign will allow us to transform our Elementary Science Lab and Middle High School Library into makerspaces that will allow our teachers to facilitate challenges and projects that are student-centered, creative, and prepare them for rigorous learning in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
This is an important journey for our school. While many students in urban centers have access to these kinds of spaces and experiences, our school is rural. We need your help to close this gap.
Rethinking How We Learn
Rather than desks arranged in rows and the teacher placed in front of the classroom, we wish to put the students in the driver’s seat as creators. We envision a comfortable and collaborative space where tables and seating are flexible to accommodate different kinds of projects. We also seek efficient storage so that materials such as hand tools and robotics equipment are readily available and accessible to our learners.
Our current spaces have cabinetry but we would like to add movable storage so that materials can be taken to wherever our students want to work. This enables the students to take ownership of their learning and creative pursuits. The functional and flexible furnishings will allow for group inquiry or independent tinkering.
Re-energizing Our School
As a rural school district, it can be difficult to obtain funding for innovative projects. Teachers, administrators, and students are also faced with the pressures of high-stakes testing and the limitations of the materials and spaces available to them. This project is an opportunity to engage our staff and students in new experiences, and allow creativity to flourish.
Our makerspace and making-centered learning experiences will re-energize the learning environment writ large. Making experiences are learner-driven and choice-based; they empower learners’ development of interest, identity, and personal learning pathways. They also allow students to develop comfort and competence with diverse tools, materials, and processes by providing an approachable, accessible, and supportive environment.
Ultimately, the renovation of these spaces, and incorporation of making as an instructional strategy, will lead to a transformation of our culture of learning.
Supporting Our Partnership
We can't do this alone. Our partnership with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is essential. They bring substantial knowledge about making as a learning practice and how to design makerspaces, having opened the MAKESHOP in 2011. In addition to design assistance, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh will be providing professional development for our faculty and will assist in the development and implementation of learning experiences in the makerspace. The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh will conduct research throughout the year to monitor and evaluate student learning and teacher growth.
We Can't Do This Without You
To successfully implement this project we need support from the community. Funds will be used to purchase materials such as paint, flexible seating and storage, materials, and peg boards to display student work. We will also use funds to cover the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh professional development and design costs.
We are also accepting donations of materials that can be repurposed, as well as books pertaining to making. These books will be used to inspire and guide student projects. A wishlist of books, or "Maker's Library," has been created on Amazon and is searchable by entering the school district’s name.
If funded we will finalize our plans with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and immediately start transforming the space, purchasing and arranging furniture, and reorganizing the storage with a focus on different kinds of materials and tools. We will also schedule the professional development workshops, including a curricular design workshop to help us create new units and lessons that will begin later this fall or in January 2016.
We are incredibly fortunate to have a supportive and involved community. To express gratitude for your donation we have developed a tiered reward structure. This is outlined on the top right side of this page. All donors will be recognized on our Kickstarter page, as well as on the District website. Various incentives have been arranged to show appreciation. We will keep backers informed on the progress of the project on this page. Updates will be posted as we renovate the spaces, along with pictures of the exciting projects that are occurring in them.
Risks and challenges
The experience and expertise of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh will allow us to persevere in the event of challenges and obstacles. They will oversee project management and professional development. Additionally, they will work with us to identify maker training needs and support us as we grow into master maker educators.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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