354 hours, 75 students, hundreds of items for 13 nonprofits. Students peeked in, stayed, came back, and recruited others. They asked what projects were on deck next, talked about the different nonprofits and their causes, and visibly demonstrated the health benefits of crafting and engaging in service.
We tried a variety of methods to advertise the different projects and encourage students to take part, and I feel like for year one getting 10% of our student body to volunteer time in the space can be seen as a success. Going forward I intend to visit classes more often to talk in person with students about our current and upcoming projects and I also want to provide more ways for teachers to integrate the opportunity into their classroom routines – not that students would come to work in the space during class but rather that it comes up naturally that the opportunity exists in the building. I also set up a table at freshman orientation in the spring with some samples and a display board and I think some interest was generated from that as well.
In terms of acknowledging students’ contributions, we produced certificates for each student that noted the amount of time they spent volunteering in the space and which projects they made items for. This way they have a certificate to use in portfolios for scholarships, college apps, and etc.
We made the certificates using a Google Sheets add-on called Autocrat – Autocrat allows you to enter information into a Google form and then it auto-generates a certificate/document using merge tags to know where to put certain information. There are some great tutorials on YouTube and online in terms of how to leverage it, and it’s a really great time saver. Plus, putting the info into a Google Form (and thus a spreadsheet) makes it easy to track numbers of students and hours and projects for future planning.
I am really happy with what we’ve been able to start at our school, and ultimately I want our makerspace to be something that involves every student who attends our school at some point his or her high school career and something students talk about with each other and look forward to being a part of. I think we are off to a great start. This year will start with comfort bears for officers of the Larimer County Sheriff to carry with them and give to children they encounter in their work that need something to hug.