Bang! Crash! Whack! Thump! Students across the country are creating, innovating, and experimenting through makerspace learning. Makerspaces teach students important science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) skills in a hands-on, creative, and engaging way.

While students are busy testing and tinkering, they are also learning important social and emotional skills. In fact, social and emotional learning (SEL) and makerspace learning are mutually beneficial.

Read on to learn how SEL and makerspace learning go hand-in-hand and explore resources and activity ideas to start implementing a makerspace in your school or out-of-school program (Bonus: You can get this up and running on a shoestring budget!).

What is a Makerspace?

Simply put, a makerspace is an area where students can build, create, and innovate. Makerspaces can be elaborate, with high-tech tools and supplies, or they can be budget-friendly — i.e. a station in a room or hallway stocked with inexpensive or recycled materials. The point is to provide students an area where they can engage in a variety of hands-on activities to learn important skills like problem-solving and creative thinking.

The Role of SEL

SEL is an important element of the process. As students learn to design, innovate, experiment, and create, they rely on many social and emotional skills. For example, students require reflection, evaluation, and problem-solving skills when faced with a challenge or obstacle. They may also need to collaborate to complete a project. Goal-setting, self-confidence, and motivation are also key.

Resources and Activity Ideas:

We know that SEL can enhance STEAM, and at the same time, STEAM teaches and reinforces SEL. Here are a few examples of how makerspace learning and SEL work together:

Responsibility and Decision-Making: Edutopia provides many makerspace resources, activities, and project ideas to help students with varying abilities and needs develop problem-solving, analytical, evaluation, and reflection skills.

Teamwork: These nine makerspace activities are designed to promote collaboration and teamwork.

Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving: An educator shares tips on how to design makerspace activities that build problem-solving skills with projects centered on real-world challenges.

Relationship-Building: An educator explains the many ways makerspace learning promotes strong educator-student and student-student relationships.

Community Engagement: Learn more about how makerspace learning can promote students’ community involvement and development.

There are many benefits of integrating SEL with makerspace learning. Students strengthen important SEL skills in a highly engaging, hands-on way and enhance STEAM skills when SEL is included in the process. Have fun building a makerspace in your school or out-of-school program and let the creating begin!

For even more resources for integrating SEL with makerspace learning and/or STEAM, contact our experts at Aperture Education.