During the 2016-17 school year the Loveland City School District debuted a new program to put part of the development of innovative educational practices directly in the hands of our teachers. Called the Innovative Classroom Grant program
, winners were announced in March 2017. The district funded 11 projects total for the 2017-18 school year, including flexible learning spaces, the investment of four new Chromebook carts, digital microscopes and MakerSpace – a hands-on, project-based learning tool for science, technology, engineering, math and art.
As part of a special series highlighting the return on this investment, Director of Technology and Innovation David Knapp talked with grant winners Rebecca Eldred and Melanie Laurent about the difference the Loveland Early Childhood Center (LECC) MakerSpace is making for our students…
David Knapp (DK): How did you develop the idea for the LECC MakerSpace, and how does it work?
Grant Winners Rebecca Eldred (RE) and Melanie Laurent (ML): We first saw the idea for a MakerSpace from other school districts in the country on Twitter. The idea for MakerSpace came about because we wanted to bring more science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities to LECC for our kindergarten and first grade students. Students get the chance to do a Makerspace lesson during one of their library times each month (minimum). We try to tie each lesson to literature, and students get to explore an open-ended challenge. They are typically given a variety of materials and challenged to create something out of them.
(DK): Now that your idea is being used, how have you seen the LECC MakerSpace enhance the educational experience for your students day to day?
(RE & ML): We have seen students start to think differently and use common materials in new and different ways. Students are approaching problem solving in new ways. We have heard a kindergarten student say, “I am using my STEM skills to solve this problem!”
(DK): What has been the most rewarding part of this process for you as an educator?
(RE & ML): The most rewarding part of this process for us has been the ability to see our students develop new skills as creators, thinkers, and problem solvers. Our students’ faces light up with excitement when it is time to go to STEM class each week or month. We are happy to have been able to develop our district’s youngest students’ growth mindset to foster young engineers, artists, scientists, and mathematicians.
(DK): Is there anything else you’d like to add?
(RE & ML): We are so excited to have been able to bring a MakerSpace to LECC thanks to the Innovative Classroom Grant, and we are hopeful that it will continue to grow.
The complete list of winning projects
included (by building):Loveland Early Childhood Center
MakerSpace – Melanie Laurent, Becca EldredLoveland Primary School
Chromebooks for Kiddos – Paula Hickey, Lisa Schulok
Chromebooks for Kiddos – Scott Koehler
Chromebooks for Kiddos – Traci Stubenrauch
Flexible Learning Space – Jamie MeyerLoveland Elementary School
Flexible Learning Space – Kari Kaiser
Chromebooks for Kiddos – Kevin RodriguezLoveland Intermediate School
Flexible Learning Space – Kristi SwartzLoveland Middle School
Flexible Learning Space – Louise JordanLoveland High School
Digital Microscopes – Jaclyn Jones, Tonya Nkhata
Flexible Learning Space – Alex Wanstrath
Photo caption: (L to R) LECC students Brielle Noe, Emma Brinkman, Elle McNerney, Aurora Jenkins working together using MakerSpace.