Boulder Valley School District

A taste of maker education wrapped in a little box

Randy Barber

Robots. Wood blocks. KNex. Strawbees. Drones. What do they all have in common? They can all be found in a BVSD Mobile Maker Kit!

Students all over the district are experiencing these mobile maker kits full of tools to provide learning experiences in science, engineering, art, coding/ programming, math, mechanical design, design thinking, robotics, and more.

“The kits came about because we wanted to provide our schools with a taste of maker education,” said Zoe Midler, Digital Literacy Specialist.

So what is maker education? “Maker Education is a learn-by-doing renaissance providing opportunities for students to engage in authentic problem solving experiences and tap their innate creativity and resourcefulness,” said Midler. It breaks down walls between subject areas and provides the opportunity to move beyond memorization and into application. Students can show their understanding of geometric shapes by programming a Sphero with the correct angles or use KNex to build a model of a scene from a book.

Students from Broomfield High School’s Eagle Genius Bar traveled to Birch Elementary last spring to help younger students explore maker ed tools. Genius Bar students spent a week playing with and learning about kit tools. Little did they know what would happen when they met the kids. “I was just really connecting to the 4th graders...they dabbed [dance move] in front of me. They built a rail and then high-fived and then they dabbed!” shared John Zack, a Genius Bar member. His teammate, William Gorman, said, “I thought it was really interesting because the kids knew how these tools worked better than me. I learned from them and that was pretty cool.”

Another one of the key values of the maker kits is that they allow students to grow their independence and resilience. “I walked them through the process once, and after that, they were basically able to keep going,” Eagle Genius Bar member Jana Compesi shared about the Birch students she worked with. While something as simple as cardboard, scissors, and glue can be used as maker tools, these kits provide access to even more tools and learning opportunities that students might not otherwise have.

Jonathan Warshaw, teacher librarian at Foothill Elementary, said his students engaged in collaboration, cooperation, and learning from their mistakes when he had the kit. This fits right into the Educational Technology department’s motto of the 4 Cs - collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. These skills will not only help students code a robot to get from Point A to Point B, they will help them as they pursue a career later in life!

Curious to learn more? Check out the Make@BVSD website, MMK (Mobile Maker Kit) reflections on Midler’s Not A Rocking Chair Librarian podcast, the BVSD Ed Tech blog, or the Broomfield High blog!


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