Maker Space introduces youngsters to technical VET learning environment
The Danish vocational school TEC – Technical Education Copenhagen has teamed up with the Copenhagen Municipality Children’s and Youth Administration, Børne-og Ungdomsforvaltningen, Fagligt Center/BUF X, in a collaborative effort to create a mutual workspace for students at TEC and pupils in their last years of elementary school (age 14-16 yrs.). The new learning environment is a “Maker Space” equipped with digital protyping technology, situated in TEC.
Elementary school pupils come to the Maker Space for a two-day program of STEM activities, and get to experience a vocational school from within. The rest of the week the Maker Space is open for TEC’s students, giving them the opportunity to explore hands-on prototyping, which is what “making” is all about.
A Maker Space workshop provides digital technology for small-scale fabrication. This enables testing of a product or a solution well in advance of final manufacturing. Through prototyping, the “maker” can invite co-creators to take part in the creative, iterative stages of an innovation process. By visualising and testing their idea with others, students can draw upon the unique insights of users and potential partners.
Digital technology such as 3D printers, laser cutters, Arduino and robots may seem like obvious attributes to the interior of a technical VET school. However, deploying a Maker Space as a learning resource does require teacher training. This training ranges from learning how to use and maintain the equipment, to innovation didactics and the pedagogical task of ensuring an inclusive, encouraging learning environment. The aim is to have students embrace the practice of learning by trial and error. We also want teachers to feel confident about exploring new digital technologies together with students, who may range from beginners to Do-It-Yourself enthusiasts. “Maker culture” is all about sharing knowledge among peers – a collaborative culture, that can bring various disciplines together, and open the school towards the outside world.
Time spent in the Maker Space may well prove to have a positive effect in other domains of our VET programs. The mutual commitment between TEC and the Municipality of Copenhagen is to stimulate an interest in STEM competences and VET careers among young learners. At TEC we are hoping to see more craft oriented VET programs incorporate UX design, innovation and 21st century skills.
The grand opening of the Maker Space at TEC was in February. Stakeholders came to see VET students guide elementary school pupils in building small loudspeakers, by using Maker Space technology. This lively event brought people together and inspired ideas for future STEM collaborations.
When the schools closed due to COVID-19, all scheduled activity in the Maker Space came to an immediate halt. Inspired by maker-communities all around the world, we were able to keep our 3D printers running day and night, printing parts for visors for the national hospital Rigshospitalet. We are now preparing for re-opening, and look forward to welcome pupils, students and their teachers back into the creative world of “making”.
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