With the objective of fostering students' critical thinking, imagination and creativity, Westfield Public School librarian Christine Pitarresi has spearheaded a new program at Tamaques Elementary, called "Makerspace." Observing current trends and needs for growing minds, Ms. Pitarresi enthusiastically noted, "We used to be a society of makers, now we are becoming a society of consumers...we need our students to embrace creative thinking and problem solving again."
With the full support of Principal David Duelks, funds from the Tamaques PTO, and a grant from the Education Fund of Westfield, Ms. Pitarresi launched Makerspace. Students in all grades 1- 5 will cycle through Makerspace during lunch sessions.
Entering a transformed library, the students can choose between several stations. For now, there is a full Lego wall with specialized engineering-related challenges, creative building stations with goal-based projects and an iPad-based station to guide students through drawing techniques. “It’s fun and we’re able to create stuff,” said fourth grader Bianca Vesuna.
Although Makerspace has already received an incredibly positive welcome, Ms. Pitarresi is not sitting on her laurels. Her ideas for projects later in the year include iPad-enabled animation with specialized green screens and experiments with electric circuitry. Principal Duelks is thrilled with the outcome. "We have succeeded in providing an environment where our kids can have a blast while expanding their problem-solving skills. I wish I had that when I was a kid!"