Editor's Note (The View From Here)

The STEAM Revolution

I flew to Pittsburgh not too long ago to attend the opening of a new makerspace at Montour Elementary, a K–4 school that sported a number of innovative learning spaces, which included a Minecraft lab, a Google Lab, a STEAM lab and an upcycling center, with a Fab Lab in the works.

A number of things impressed me about this school — and, for that matter, Pittsburgh itself, which boasts around 200 makerspaces in the immediate area. Among them: the support of both parents and administrators for non-traditional learning spaces and the forward-thinking way the school brought STEAM education into the makerspace in a way that wasn’t so much about the technology as it was about creating an environment in which the students felt encouraged and inspired to explore. (STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, the arts and math, incidentally. It’s STEM education with the arts mixed in.)

The school is a new construction, one that takes into account new modalities in teaching and learning, with a special emphasis on STEAM, and the makerspace was the latest manifestation of that approach to design. This particular makerspace was themed on Lego Education products and included a stop-motion animation studio, a Lego building station and an augmented reality station, among other areas. But again, while the technology and tools were certainly prominent, they weren’t the story.

As Fanning Howey’s John Gladden and Brandon Biniker point out in this month’s Building Blueprints department on makerspaces, “Effective makerspaces aren’t necessarily those with the most technology or digital devices. They are instead spaces where students feel socially and emotionally connected to their peers and can collaboratively or independently explore at their own pace. Technology enhances this experience, but doesn’t drive it.” Their piece starts on page 19.

In other news, I’m very pleased to announce the hire of our new senior editor, Yvonne Marquez. Yvonne comes to us with six years of experience crafting beautiful articles for other publications. You’ve probably already noticed her byline on our site (webspm.com). She’s also involved in our magazine, webinars, podcasts and live events. Take a moment to greet her (and pitch her your story ideas) when you get a chance. She can be reached at [email protected].

This article originally appeared in the School Planning & Management September 2019 issue of Spaces4Learning.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrnagel/ .

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