In the fall of 2017, Longfellow Middle School will start to become the “Science Hub” for Berkeley schools. When the Schools Fund learned in 2015 that the former cafeteria space at Longfellow would soon be available, we talked to school leaders about re-purposing it as a Makerspace, a collaborative work space allowing students to engage creatively in design and engineering projects from crafting to coding. In November 2016, Longfellow was chosen by Maker Ed, a national non-profit that promotes making and learning experiences with undeserved youth, to receive program support for a new Makerspace.
“Maker education dovetails with our school wide focus because it adds a real-world connection to students’ learning, lays a groundwork for learning career skills, integrates technology in a way that matters to students, and teaches self-determination through planning and carrying out independent engineering projects. We know that many of our students from disadvantaged backgrounds are not successful at Longfellow because they do not experience a connection between their academic learning and real life. Creating projects that integrate engineering challenges, tinkering, making, and technology with students’ math, science and language arts learning, will give those subjects relevance.” – Matt Hinckley, Science Teacher at Longfellow Middle School
In Spring 2017, Maker Ed facilitated the early phases of the project and will provide ongoing curriculum and teacher professional development. BUSD’s Career Technical Education Department will also be connecting programming and resources to the Science Hub. Also this year, Cal State East Bay’s Institute for STEM Education, with financial support from Wareham Development, decided to co-locate a “Circle Lab,” offering more traditional science programming to build on the “hands-on” learning at the Makerspace.
With the Schools Fund’s support, the Science Hub will and expand to be “community facing,” serving not only Longfellow but teachers and schools districtwide.