Wauwatosa school libraries gear up for fall introduction of ‘makerspaces’

Wauwatosa Now: About 15 sixth-grade students in Longfellow Middle School library gathered around blob-shaped tables and sat on bright blue and green chairs during their lunch period Tuesday, May 24.

The library, which was renovated before the beginning of the current school year to include extra space, new furniture and deep blue shelves stocking hundreds of books, is about to get another new addition come this fall, said librarian Tracy Eccles.

Thanks to a $17,200 grant from the Education Foundation of Wauwatosa, every school library in the Wauwatosa School District will be equipped with a “makerspace” for the 2016-17 school year. The innovative spaces give students access to materials and supplies that foster creativity, Eccles said. Through the spaces, students can inquire, create, collaborate, tinker, mentor, experiment, invent and solve problems.

Makerspaces are popping up around the country, said Eccles, and devoting areas of libraries to the cause is part of a greater push across the education system for group work and project-based learning.

“It gives them opportunities outside of the traditional classroom,” Eccles said of makerspaces. “It’s free and available to every child.”

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