MakerSpace boosting Neveln Launch program

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, April 13, 2016

By Blake Henely

Neveln Technology Integration specialist

A MakerSpace is an educational space concept new to schools in the United States. According to, in January 2016, there were less than 500 defined MakerSpaces in the United States and less than 1,500 worldwide. There are many forms and directions a Makerspace can take: playing and creating, challenge based, and standards based.

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Neveln Elementary is creating a MakerSpace to continue to support our mission, vision and values. Neveln is leading the way in Austin with implementing a MakerSpace into the weekly routine. Neveln’s MakerSpace is directly connected to our Project Lead the Way program, Launch. There are similarities and differences that appeal to the students between the Launch program and the MakerSpace. The hands-on learning that takes place in the MakerSpace supports the style of learning that also happens in Launch.

Students also have the opportunity to create a project without teacher created checklists, rubrics, or requirements for the project. Students are motivated by the student-driven and hands-on approach to learning. Neveln’s Makerspace encourages communication, collaboration, teamwork, learning from mistakes, and always having a growth mindset. According to Carol Dweck, “In the growth mindset, when you fail, you’re learning.”

Blake Henely, Neveln Technology Integration  specialist

Blake Henely, Neveln Technology Integration

The staff at Neveln feel the three key pieces to a successful MakerSpace at Neveln are the room, the people, and a variety of ideas. Neveln is converting one of its computer labs into a mobile laptop lab. The computers will be distributed to classrooms to increase their student usage. Neveln created a MakerSpace study group that has representatives from each grade level, along with the instructional coach, technology integration specialist, gifted and talented teacher, and the principal. The team has visited several MakerSpaces in other districts to gain perspective. Neveln is also privileged to partner with the Learning Technologies Media Lab from the University of Minnesota and Tiffany Nielsen-Winkelman. Having these three key pieces in place put Neveln in position to successfully implement our MakerSpace program in the 2016-17 school year.

The MakerSpace at Neveln will look different from other MakerSpaces throughout the state as each one reflects its resources. Many times no two MakerSpaces look the same, even if they’re in the same district. The Makerspace is designed and set up to meet the needs of the students in that school, classroom or “space.” A MakerSpace is a place that students can go throughout the week to create, invent, explore, and discover using a variety of tools.

Everything from newspaper, cardboard, lumber and various technology are items one may see in a MakerSpace. Neveln accepts donated supplies from parents through the building’s Donors Choose account. If you are able to and interested in donating, we have a list of materials that the students will need. The two materials that one can never get enough of are old newspapers and cardboard.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a time to see our MakerSpace, please feel free to contact me through my website: You will also find more information and pictures documenting Neveln’s journey in the MakerSpace project. As a community member you can have a helping hand in supporting Neveln’s MakerSpace.