Makerspaces are rapidly being implemented by schools, school districts, libraries, and community centers throughout the Bay Area, creating a need for trained staff to plan, implement, and run these spaces. KCI founded its own makerspace in 2017 and shortly after launched a new state-approved certificate—Makerspace Coordinator. This 10-month, 18-unit program is designed for people who are seeking employment in fabrication laboratories and makerspaces in educational settings.
In summer 2018, KCI launched two Makerspace Certificate programs—one for the general population and the second—titled UniDIVersity—specifically for women of color, women veterans, and women with special needs. Both programs provide instruction and support for building models and prototypes, strategies to spark innovation and invention, and creative problem solving and collaboration. KCI staff was delighted to see how immediately popular the program was—with 44 people completing the initial course. Program participants were introduced to design thinking, computational thinking, and physical computing, in addition to makerspace tools such as laser cutters and 3D printers.
The certificate is ideal for classified and certificated personnel at schools, community center employees and volunteers, and librarians and library assistants. Participants leave the program with the skills and confidence needed to plan, implement and run makerspaces. The UniDIVersity program, funded by the Morgan Family Foundation, was a special opportunity for women to come together, form a learning community, and gain new skills.
As one participant stated, “KCI’s all-female program was a great opportunity for educators to learn makerspace basics, along with how to get started and how to integrate maker projects into core curriculum within the K-12 environment. When women run makerspaces in schools and community organizations, they become role models for girls who would like to pursue STEM-related careers.”
Participants showed significant skill growth during the program. When asked to rate their skills prior to the program, 85% identified as being either early or development stage in their maker capabilities. Only 15% identified as proficient or advanced. At the end of the program, the profile shifted markedly: No one identified as early stage, and 76% identified as proficient or advanced, with the remaining 24% identifying as developing.
When asked whether the program increased their confidence in using tools with their students and met their professional learning needs, 90% affirmed the value of the Makerspace Certificate program. More importantly, for the UniDIVersity program, 95% of the cohort agreed that the program helped them to become an empowered female leader in creativity, education, and/or makerspaces. One participant stated, “Thank you. This was the most life changing professional learning I’ve undertaken in a long time. I want to become a makerspace leader! This wasn’t even on my radar a year ago, and now I’m finding ways to align my whole life around opportunities in the making realm, both personal and professional.”