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WE Innovate: MakerSpace Backpacks at Highland Park MS

When students at Highland Park Middle School head home for the weekend, they have the opportunity to take a mobile MakerSpace with them.

While there is a MakerSpace in the school's library, scheduling is a challenge. 'There's not a lot of time during the day, so our biggest challenge is getting access for the kids," says Highland Park Library Instructional Technology Teacher Ben Lloyd.

The school decided to start a MakerSpace Backpack program, purchasing backpacks and activities with a DonorsChoose grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "The thought was how can we take Makerspace to the kids," says Lloyd.

The program started in late February. There are nine backpacks for students to check out and a MakerSpace activity in each backpack. The activities include everything from game design and game building, to robotics, electronics kits and stop motion kits. So far, it's been fairly popular. "We're checking out 6-8 backpacks each week, using just word of mouth and a display outside of the library," says Lloyd.

The program is first come, first serve. Lloyd keeps a list of students throughout the week and then checks out the backpacks on Fridays. Students are able to keep them for a week. "Some of the students come back and talk about the challenges they've had and we work through them. Others return to show us the products or games they've created," says Lloyd.

He hopes to grow the program, adding more backpacks and activities in the coming months. "My goal is to get these activities to as many kids as possible."