Projects Underway

Creating Mobile “Makerspaces” to Support Experiential Learning

Dana Antonucci-Durgan

Project Team
  • Susan Wood, Suffolk County Community College
  • Paul Turano, Suffolk County Community College
  • Troy Hahn, Suffolk County Community College
  • Edward Hassildine, Specialist II
  • Damon Vogel, Suffolk County Community College

Suffolk County Community College

2014

Tier One

Project Abstract:

This project aims to investigate the effectiveness of mobile “makerspaces” to support experiential learning and to introduce students to new technologies. The mobile makerspace concept capitalizes on the expertise of the Suffolk County Community College libraries and the technological infrastructure of the college. The project aims to investigate how mobile “makerspaces” 1) enhance student learning and discovery, 2) offer students opportunities outside the classroom to explore interests in science, technology, and creative arts and 3) provide students access to technology and equipment that will further student engagement, career development and life-long learning.

“Makerspaces” encourage learning through design and fabrication using a variety of different mediums. Some “makerspaces” include welding equipment, robotics components, and 3D printing facilities. As space on college campuses and libraries is at a premium, mobile “makerspaces” offer an immediate solution to allow collaborative, experiential work spaces given limited space resources. A 2009 survey of SUNY library directors found that 81% of survey participants had space converted or reassigned to non-library activities over the past 10 years1. This project will assess the effectiveness of the mobile makerspace as a potential model for other libraries or campuses within SUNY to adopt.

Academic libraries have long been centers of research and learning on college campuses. Libraries invest in technology and infrastructure to support the educational mission of the institution. In an effort to support Open SUNY, this project seeks to leverage the resources of libraries to support experiential learning to further engage students in academic discovery and to “prepare students for success in their lives and careers.”

Experiential learning spaces emphasize experience as the driving force for learning. David Kolb, a scholar in the field, elaborated on this concept to infer that knowledge is created through a “combination of grasping and transforming experience”2. A common example of an experiential learning opportunity is an internship. In a 2011 Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCSSE) study, 85% of students surveyed had never participated in an internship, co-op, or clinical assignment and 77% had never participated in a community-based project as part of their coursework3. This project aims to provide students with informal experiential learning experiences and collaborative projects with low barriers to entry to foster student engagement and success.

In the first phase of the project, mobile makerspace events will be held at the Eastern Campus Library. Students will learn the concepts of 3D printing including how to import 3D models from Thingiverse and how to fabricate the item using a 3D printer. In a more advanced workshop, students will work with 3D modeling software, Trimble, to create unique objects for printing and also work with the 3D scanner to scan items for 3D printing. The mobile learning space will give students the opportunity to work with cutting edge technology that has applications in manufacturing, interior design, graphic art and design, science, engineering and medicine. 3D printing will also be available during the semester as a mediated service. Students will have the opportunity to create objects using the 3D printer with the assistance of a faculty or staff member. Students taking 3D modeling courses will have the opportunity to print 3D models created in the classroom.

Another mobile makerspace will concentrate on video production. Students will get hands on experience recording a video against a green screen and editing the final production using iMovie. Through this informal learning experience, the project will engage students in the campus community while providing a collaborative learning experience as students will work in teams during the workshop. The mobile makerspace will be available to all three campus libraries to hold events. Students will be provided with instructional workshops and online tutorials to encourage student discovery of the equipment.

Finally, the project will document best practices for creating mobile “makerspaces”. Online tutorials on 3D printing and video production will be loaded to YouTube and iTunesU. Project assessment results will be posted on a LibGuide for all to review. After assessing the mobile makerspace model, successful applications of the model can be implemented on other SUNY campuses. A SUNY makerspace community could be established which capitalizes on the diverse academic programs and expertise of SUNY campuses.

The IITG funding of this project will further the following goals, objectives and outcomes:

Goal 1: Increase student exposure to 3D printing and video production technology.

Instructional Objective
a. Students will learn how to plan and produce 3D printed objects using software and/or scanned objects.
Outcomes
a. Educate 25 students during the first year on the 3D printing and video technologies.
b. Students produce 3D product using 3D printer.

Instructional Objective
a. Students will learn how to produce a video on industry standard equipment.
Outcomes
a. Educate 25 students during the first year on video technology.
b. Student produces edited video.

Goal 2: Increase student opportunities for informal experiential learning.

Instructional Objective
a. Makerspace attendees will perform “real world” applications of technology to encourage learning through experience.
Outcome
a. Students will produce video or 3D object on standard industry equipment.

Goal 3: Develop a model for mobile “makerspaces” that can be transferred across SCCC campuses and within SUNY.

Objective
a. Establish best practices for creating mobile “makerspaces”.
Outcomes
a. Hold at least one mobile makerspace event at another SCCC campus library.
b. Document best practices for delivering workshop content.

Project Outcome:

A complete guide for creating a mobile makerspace is available here