Christ-King Catholic School’s Learning Commons, which contains the new Makerspace and Library, is really taking shape.
“For our Learning Commons, the renovations started in the summer,” said Tara McMillan, the school’s principal. “Basically we have taken that whole area which is kind of the central hub of our school, and we have divided the space but we are still able to open it up into one larger space, too,” she said, adding that an ‘accordion’ wall is a part of the set-up as well.
“This can slide back and forth, so we can either have one massive Learning Commons area or we can have a fully-loaded Makerspace on one side and our library on the other side,” she said.
“We can use it as two different rooms for two different classes at the same time, or we can open it up and use it as one big space.”
Thanks to infrastructure funding from the government this year, the school has been able to move ahead with these projects, she said.
As to makerspaces, McMillan describes them as super-creative places that offer a lot of fun and exploration to students.
“It’s a very hands-on type of class. Basically what happens is that a class will go in, and they are given a number of challenges that they can choose from.
“One challenge may be, for example, that they need to build a bridge that will hold a certain amount of weight. So they get a chance to research differently types of bridges, different styles – and then they are given all of the materials from cardboard to popsicle sticks – anything that they could possibly want.
“They can then build it anyway they want to try and solve the challenge. So it’s very student-centred. They work either individually or in small groups to determine the best solutions to the problem,” she explained. “There is little ‘teacher guidance’ because a lot of it is kind of trial and error,” she said.
“We had started it in our library centre for the past couple of years, but now, with the fully renovated space, we are expanding out to include such things as robotics and 3-D printers and we will go from there,” she said. “We are very, very excited to be able to bring those kinds of opportunities to our kids.”
Also, the school’s CTF trailer will be arriving soon for junior high options classes.
“Those are the classes where kids get to explore different areas that they wouldn’t necessarily get to check out through the Alberta curriculum,” she said.
“We have over 25 options that we offer, and we ask them what ones they would like to partake in. What would you have an interest in? They all vote, and the top six voted ones are the ones that will run that year,” she said.
“But we have been limited in terms of the industrial arts just because we haven’t had the space, so that is the purpose of the trailer. It’s basically a mobile classroom that is going to be pulled in once a year and it’s going to really open up those industrial arts,” she explained.
“We will be able to do small engines, woodworking, welding – things like that.
“It will come in to run whatever industrial program we want, and then it will move onto the next school in our district – so it kind of makes the rounds for the year! It’s really great – a very innovative idea!
“It’s a solution that a lot of districts are using – it’s mobile and can serve a lot of schools in the area while still providing those opportunities to the students.”