Elevate learning to a higher level and boost engagement in project-based learning through awarding badges for mastery of makerspace skills.

Though some students can excel through traditional pedagogy based on rote memorization, all children can benefit through learning methods that cultivate their individual strengths. While teachers shouldn’t be expected to create a unique curriculum for each student, there is an easy way to reach every pupil through teaching methods that promote makerspace skills.

makerspace skillsUsing badges to recognize mastery of makerspace skills promotes confidence and goal-setting standards in children, while providing ease of tracking progress for teachers. One of the most popular and easy-to-use systems is the collaboration between Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation, called Open Badges. The system uses digital badges to signify skill mastery and is used by organizations around the world, including educational institutions. Badges in general are gaining popularity for acknowledging development of a specific skill. Students like badges because they gamify the learning experience in a familiar way while recognizing achievements.

If you’re unsure of how to assess makerspace skills and measure learning in meaningful ways, consider awarding these (and other) badges to your students when they demonstrate mastery in a specific area.

1. Making Mindfulness

Observe how students regard themselves and others. Mindfulness starts with inward student reflection and value of self, but eventually extends to treating others well by remaining aware and maintaining positive control over different situations.

2. Safety Skills

makerspace skillsGiving students tools can feel a little intimidating as teachers worry about student safety. Outline safety procedures and expectations for all makerspace activities, and then observe who is following them. Those exhibiting makerspace skills in safety deserve a badge not only for their own good judgment and personal responsibility, but also for setting a positive example for their peers.

3. Training with Tools

When working on different project-based lessons, observe how students use items such as the Bunsen burner, gardening tools, or supplies needed during station-based learning. Those who properly use tools—including thoroughly cleaning and correctly storing—receive this badge. You can even award a different badge for each type of tool that is mastered.

4. Recognizing Value in Repurposing

As a practice in recycling and ecology, students can make creations by repurposing old items that might have otherwise been discarded in the trash. Through creating usable products by recycling, students can earn badges.

5. Makerspace Mentors

Create a student mentorship program and encourage students to lead by adding the incentive of earning a badge. Through working together on projects, mentorship pairs can help each other to develop makerspace skills.

makerspace skills6. Inventions for Badges

Using this list of inventions created by kids, inspire students to create their own solutions to common problems. From drawing up plans to creating a prototype, students can earn a makerspace skills badge by building their inventions from start to finish and reflecting on the process.

7. STEM Tour Planning

Invite students to participate in lesson planning by asking them to research local STEM events and explain how they fit into class curriculum. Post a large calendar within the classroom and, with student input, plan to attend the STEM events that are most valuable to children’s education.

8. Machine Masters

When introducing new machinery, such as a 3-D printer, set a badge-earning goal to encourage students to learn proper usage. Once students have successfully used a new machine to create and finish a project, they will be ready to receive a badge.

Many options exist to encourage students to excel in their mastery of makerspace skills. With these simple—yet important—activities, kids will gain the confidence to set bigger goals and master more challenging projects.

Remember, not everything that is important can be measured on a standardized test. Giving credit for important learning experiences can help students see that they are more than their standardized test score.

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