Albemarle Schools' Maker Spaces Program Gets National Attention
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - An Albemarle County high school is doing away with a traditional library space and is instead letting students take over. This week the school is getting national attention for its efforts.
Maker Spaces is a program that allows students to create and design their own work. It's in Albemarle County schools from the elementary to high school level. "It's a place to gather, to collaborate, to study, to read, whatever it is they want to do," said Chad Ratliff, the assistant director of instructional programs at Albemarle County Public Schools.
Monticello High School has really embraced the idea, transforming parts of its library into a music studio, a "hacker" room for computer programming, and a "genius bar" where students can fix each other's broken computers. Another highlight for maker spaces at Monticello High School is a new 3-D printer. Students can sign up to spend time doing any of these activities before and after school, during free periods, and during lunch.
The Librarian said although the school has lost storage and office spaces, it has been well worth it for the students to have a space for their own to pursue different hobbies and activities. She said the library has become the central hub of the school, and students can convene there to watch classic movies, documentaries, and the news, to study, and to collaborate on music, computer, gaming, and TV production projects with their friends, among other actives.
She and other administrators have noticed how receptive the students have been. "This really has been a completely transitional experience for students and for Monticello High School," Ratliff said. "The library spaces now have sort of a pull effect, and sort of like Jefferson's academical village, we have this space, it's ready for them to produce and not only consume information and it's just a draw. The demand is there," he said.
On Wednesday administrators from University of North Carolina Greensboro stopped by the school to see how they can use the program at the college level.
"We're interested in re-envisioning our teaching resources center, our TRC, into more of a 21st century learning commons complete with Maker Space," said Karen Wixson, the dean of the school of education at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. "It's exciting that they see this space and what's done here as sort of the center of the school and that it's used by many different teachers in many different subject areas," she said. "They're more collaborative they're more engaged, so that's what excites me."
Thursday, administrators from Harvard will be touring Monticello High School to learn more about Maker Spaces. Some students will also be presenting heir work to members of the Smithsonian Thursday as well.