From GCAA Makerspace: "Weekly Design Challenge"

 Image credit: Magic House website

As the Grand Center Arts Academy Makerspace will be opening soon, we would like to highlight some of the great work Andrew Goodin is doing as he organizes this very unique student experience. The following was posted on the GCAA Makerspace June 20, 2013, and gives some insight into where Goodin is drawing his inspiration and how he will encourage students to explore and create personally meaningful products:

Yesterday we met with folks from The Magic House, who have been implementing kid-centered experiences since 1979. In fact, Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter & a St. Louis native, has tweeted about his ”awesome” experiences at The Magic House.

The STEAM-in-museum experience v.s. STEAM-in-school experience varies.  Whereas in the GCAA Makerspace students are stakeholders in the improvements of the space with long-term projects & their own storage; in a museum the participants have to engage with bite-sized making experiences because guests might only attend one time per year.


Museums have the challenge of condensing design thinking to mini structured experiences.The MAKESHOP at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh exemplifies this role. They provide “appetizers” for participants to delve further into the culture of making upon returning home.

I like this idea. Sure, it’s important that students research problems and prototype solutions, but as an educator I understand the need for differentiation.  Some students might find the Makerspace more accessible if the problem is proposed to them. As such, I plan to implement a “Weekly Design Challenge.”

One corner of the Makerspace will be designated for the weekly challenge with creation and documentation tools available. As an example, a student might enter the Makerspace and see that the weekly challenge is to design a paper airplane that flies the longest distance. If that particular challenge sparks interest for the student, he or she might spend hours/days on the task, all the while learning prototyping and design iteration. If that week’s challenge doesn’t excite a student, he or she might propose another idea to the Makers Council, explore skill building on, or collaborate with other students on an invention idea. 

Though the entry level to design thinking may vary, our vision still stands. The Makerspace is a STEAM room, fostering creative skills for our next generation of STEAM professionals.

Disruption Department