Early Years Settings and Schools

In the Sheffield MakEY project, pop-up makerspaces were organised in two nurseries and two primary school settings. The following provides a brief overview of the activities undertaken.

Broomhall Nursery School
In this project, three- and four-year old children engaged in a project on ‘Light and Colour’. They learned how to make complete circuits using batteries, LED lights and leads. They used the circuits in a range of creative projects, such as making torches, which were then used to create lightshows in a black-out tent using an app named ‘Pablo’. The nursery staff reported, in Figure 1, how these were then used to create calendars to send home for Christmas.

Figure 1: Still images from lightshows made into calendars

The children also created drawings that lit up, using copper tape and LEDs, and making animated films using transparent plastic shapes and lights. In addition, the children created models using Play-doh, that they lit up with bulbs. The project developed children’s skills and knowledge relating to electrical circuits, and art and design.

Clifford Church of England Primary School

A class of Year 2 children, aged 6 and 7, engaged in a project based on the Moomin stories, a Finnish series. The week-long project began with a puppet show about the Moomins, presented by a professional theatre company. The children created clay models of Moomin characters, which were then formed into 3D computer-designed models using an app named ‘Qlone’. The virtual models were imported into the Google Virtual Reality app ‘Tilt Brush’, which the children used to create VR Moomin landscapes. The children also drew Moomin characters, that were laser cut by a local maker, James Wallbank, and they used these to populate shoebox theatres that lit up (see Figure 2). They wrote playscripts for their theatres.

Figure 2: Laser-cut Moomin figures in a shoebox theatre

Finally, the children made animated films starring their Moomin 3D-printed models, which were printed from the Qlone files. Their learning ranged across the subjects of Science, Technology, and Literacy.

Monteney Primary School
A nursery class took part in this project. The three-and four-year-olds worked on re-creating their neighbourhood in models. They built model houses with their parents, then created a light for their houses using copper tape, LED lights and batteries. Following this, the children created lampposts using the same techniques, then completed their neighbourhood by building Christmas trees with flashing lights! The children used green screen technology to create films in which they sang Christmas carols in front of forests of the trees (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Green-screen film in a Christmas forest

The project developed children’s skills and knowledge relating to electric circuits, and art and design.

Norfolk Community Primary School

In this project, a Year 3 class of 7- and 8-year-old children created imaginary playscapes. They first captured favourite playspaces in the neighbourhood using a tablet camera, then created collages of these spaces. They built a clay model of a play object to take into their imaginary playspace, which were then formed into 3D computer-designed models using the ‘Qlone’ app. The virtual models were imported into the Google Virtual Reality app ‘Tilt Brush’, and the children created imaginary play spaces in this virtual world (see Figure 4). This project developed creativity and sills in technology and design.

Figure 4: A child creating a virtual reality playscape in Google ‘Tilt Brush’

The case studies concluded with a public display of the work in the Sheffield Winter Gardens in June 2018 and a Guidance on Setting up a Makerspace in Schools has been developed.

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