Join us to bring more opportunities for accessible hands-on learning at Bethesda Elementary!
At Bethesda Elementary (BE), we strive to bring a sense of wonder, curiosity, and collaboration to the learning environment. We are embarking on an exciting and innovative project to create more opportunities for interactive, inclusive learning for all our students, and we need you to bring this vision to life.What is Maker Education?
BE has been selected to be part of a nationwide effort to foster "Maker Education" - a hands-on approach to learning that encourages exploration, resilience, and teamwork. Our recent STEM Day & Night (celebrating Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) highlighted our students' enthusiasm for creative and interactive learning. Now we hope to make hands-on activities available on an everyday basis, and accessible to all students, including those with unique talents, needs, and physical and cognitive abilities. As a school that welcomes all its students - including those with special needs from our county cluster, and those from international families who are new to the DC region - we see maker education as an amazing way to spark the common joy of learning in our diverse community.
What (and where) will Maker Education be at BE?
Space is at a premium, so instead of a dedicated room, we are developing MakerCarts that can go everywhere and serve everyone. As just one example, a cart can be used for a whole-class activity for kindergarteners in the morning, an indoor recess station for third-graders midday, and a quiet exploration time in the afternoon for a small group of students with noise sensitivities. Our first cart will have Legos for versatile, creative building as well as circuit components, including Makey-Makey invention kits . These amazing little kits encourage imaginative and collaborative projects, and bridge technology with simple touch - see the video below for an example. A second cart will feature art supplies that are both ordinary (normal markers and yarn) and extraordinary (conductive ink and thread), and will also pilot a small programmable robot, the Sphero, which is ideal for team-building on a range of projects. Funds permitting, we'll launch a third cart to support outdoor and environmental activities.When do we start?
Now! Design is underway and we'll start assembling our first two carts in May. We expect to be rolling before the summer break. We will continue to work with students, teachers, special educators, language specialists, and families (that's you!) to develop more carts and accessible, fun Maker activities. Ultimately, our tools may span low-tech (duct tape) to high-tech (3D printers). But at each step of the way, our focus is to foster the unique BE spirit of collaboration and inquiry. We hope that our success can serve as a model for other schools that want to develop programs for inclusive, interactive learning.What will the $ buy?
Here are some examples of how your donations will be used. This is not a final list because we are still completing designs and identifying suppliers, but it shows how all gift levels can be transformed into a WonderLab on Wheels.Our partners
We have already been awarded $500 in matching funds from Google, MakerEd, and The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. We are working closely with our local hub, KID Museum, for development and training. Last but not least, our students and staff are already abuzz with excitement for this project. Student Council independently led off with a Hat Day on April 4th to raise money for our mobile makerspaces. Nearly 300 students participated and raised almost $400! Please help support their incredible momentum and help us reach our goal of 2K in 2 weeks!Ways of giving
This project is not just about building stuff - it's also about building community. We need your talent and ideas (not to mention your old legos!). To get involved beyond a donation, please email us at becreativetogether @ gmail.com
Thank you for your support!