All Hallows’ Library Services operates Cre8 Lab – a makerspace program to engage students with technologies and provide them with invaluable tech skills for tomorrow’s world.

School libraries have long provided information and resources, but with rapid developments in technology, there has been a shift away from mainly print to digital formats. A new emphasis is “making” resources that helps staff and students create their own information and resources.

This approach has direct curriculum relevance. The proposed Queensland Senior Syllabus identifies six future-oriented skills and attributes: critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and teamwork, personal and social skills and ICT skills; all of which are central to Cre8 Lab activities.

Student “voice and choice” has guided selection of activities in the Cre8 Lab, producing a focus on wearables, fabrication and electronics. The Cre8 Lab is an offshoot of the All Hallows’ School’s makerspace program. Older students perceived the McAuley Library Makerspace as a place for the “little kids”, so in the middle of 2016, it was decided that if the older students were not coming to the makerspace, we would bring the makerspace to them.

Our aim was to build on student interests to engage the older girls with “making” and technologies. Armed with some plastic tubs and knowledge about activities older students enjoyed, Cre8 Lab began at the beginning of Term 3, 2016, in Potter Library, and students were invited to sign up for workshops.

The initial concept was a program of three to four workshops scheduled in the first four weeks of school, mainly at lunchtimes. While students provided input about programming, they also sought ideas from staff.

The biggest challenge was to design activities to attract and interest students that were achievable in terms of meeting time and budget constraints. This program highlighted the need for library staff with new-age skills or those who are willing to gain such skills.

Connecting Cre8 Lab activities with subject areas was another priority. This was achieved with repeating Cre8 Lab activities in Year 9 ICT with Arduino, and connections with Fashion studies. There have been discussions to integrate Arduino, fibre-optics and 3D printing further in Science classes in 2017. Special effects make-up was also included in an activity in the senior Life Skills program.

Students showcased their work at an event, resulting in a week-long display where the girls invited families, and the school community, to see their creations that included 3D printing, fabrication with air-dried clay, wearable electronics, fibre-optics and coding of neopixels using Arduino.

Staff from the Brisbane Hackerspace and State Library of Queensland’s Asia Pacific Design Library visited the Cre8 Lab showcase as part of the community connections being built through this program, and provided more ideas, such as body scanning for 3D printing, and feedback about ways to incorporate Design Thinking more extensively, to assist further development of the program.

Our Cre8 Lab is in its infancy, barely 6 months old, but it has made great steps in creating positive experiences for female students using technology.

The challenge is to find ways to scale this up, to complement a myriad of other strategies being implemented in the school.

Anne Weaver is Head of Library and Information Services at All Hallows’ School and she is also an APDL Design Minds Regional Ambassador. 

Image: Students using tinkercad to make chokers and lamps
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