MakerSpaces Bursting with Energy!

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MakerSpaces Bursting with Energy!

There are few things as exciting and inspiring as seeing pictures of students so thoroughly engaged in challenging their minds and working with their peers solving problems. Depicted below are students across BELS’s 14 districts engaged in an incredible variety of MakerSpace activities. Our readers who have been following along our MakerSpace articles may notice some projects that were initiated at one school are now being conducted in other BELS schools. Our media specialists are leaders of idea and resource sharing and this is a perfect example of that kind of collaborative educational approach. BELS schools began taking part in NJMakersDay’s statewide March program in its first year and have now expanded both in the number of participants and in the number of days of participation, often having month-long events. Read more below about the wonderful ways our librarians have brought Making into their learning spaces.

Park Ridge

All month long, Katie Haake, media specialist at the Park Ridge Jr/Sr HS held MakerSpace activities generating student anticipation and interest. Tinker Tuesdays in March included Ozobot challenges, art made from recycled books, duct tape lanyards or carnations, and animal origami bookmarks. Over 275 students then participated in the additional two MakerSpace days. Students in a history class demonstrated their understanding of trench warfare tactics and weaponry by building replica battlefields out of cotton balls, pipe cleaners, straws, and popsicle sticks. Frau Luce’s level 2 German students have been studying holidays, gifts, greetings, and well wishes for special occasions. As one of the culminating activities for this unit, students participated in the MakerSpace by creating buttons with special wishes; for example: Alles Gute zum Gebuterstag! (Happy Birthday) Alles Liebe zum Muttertag! (Happy Mother’s Day) Frohe Ostern! (Happy Easter) etc. Other activities included assembling a Pixel poster, making light up creatures with squishy circuits, and creating circuits with Littlebits. See more pictures here.


Wood-Ridge Jr/Sr High School students from Eileen Layman’s Careers & Resources class voted for Alien Invasion as their activity for NJMakersDay. Students, teachers and administrators brought in recycled materials for the students to work with and the local Civic Center saved large boxes for students.  Students selected the “element” of society they preferred to design, deciding among security, housing, waste, energy, food and healthcare. After choosing an “element,” the teams sketched a plan and began designing with recycled materials, creating a component for a functioning society in a post-invasion world.

Administrators came to the Media Center to hear the students present their element and then all six elements came together as a working community of “Alien Survivors.” After Makers Day, students presented an overview of which of the six elements was best designed and voted on which student was “Maker” for the day. Mrs. Layman presented the selected 8th grade student with a Maker t-shirt, donated by the Mackin company. For more pictures visit here and to take a look at the Alien Invasion challenge and get the full lesson plan, visit here.

Northern Valley – Old Tappan

The SuperVolcano under Yellowstone National Park can erupt anytime now.  It has erupted three times in the past and geologists theorize that it is overdue for an event.  Ten Biology and two Art classes at Northern Valley Old Tappan designed disaster relief plans and created prototypes for safety devices as an NJMakersDay activity in Janice Cooper’s Library Media Center.

When the SuperVolcano blows, lava will flow over areas in Wyoming . . . but that will be least of our worries.  Ash will fall across the entire country, dumping a dense coating over everything: fields, houses, reservoirs . . . In the New York City area, the coating will be 1” to 3” thick.  The ash will partially block the sun, lowering temperatures and shortening the growing season.  Tons of poisonous chemicals, like sulfur dioxide, will be released into the atmosphere.  Food, clean air and water, and fuel will be scarce. Respiratory diseases and stress-related illnesses will mushroom.  What can we do to prepare for these life-threatening hazards?

After watching a brief overview video on the Smithsonian website, teams of students tackled a variety of solutions for the various hazards and challenges caused by the eruption. Students made air-filtration systems for individuals and for residences, water conservation devices and irrigation systems, alternative energy fuel cells, and mental health clinics and stress balls for those suffering from the effects of this new reality. Students were absolutely engaged and involved in this potential ‘life or death’ struggle.  They used prior knowledge and current creativity to participate in the SuperVolcano dynamic, hands-on, problem-solving activity.

The Northern Valley School Libraries are active members of NJ Makers Consortium.

Northern Valley – Demarest

Courtney Reinfried’s students at Northern Valley Demarest were our first group to beta-test the new MakerSpace Design Challenge “Thar Be Treasure!” Student groups worked on one of three task areas- recreating a 3Dimensional map of the island based on the sea captain’s historical account, constructing a medical transport for the injured sea captain, and solving a number of riddles set to bar the student pirates from accessing the treasure’s location. Selected pictures are below with many more viewable here and you can access the Pirate Design Challenge here.


Jolie Kurz and her library aides set up MakerSpace centers in each library of the four Dumont elementary schools. Grades 3-5 were introduced first to the rules and materials in the centers which later on included grades 1 & 2. Ms. Kurz created a Lego challenge to be completed as part of a district MakerSpace goal and you can see pictures of that challenge here. A MakerSpace Day was also held in each building where students rotated to try various centers; including 3Doodler, iPads, Osmo, HUE animation, MaKey Makey, and a Keva Plank roller coaster challenge. Please visit the slides here and here for an absolutely wonderful collection of photos of students thrilling in their newfound  “Maker” abilities. Additionally, Dumont students continued this year with their annual Pumpkin Patch and Book Tasting events (pictured here).

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