UDT hosts pop-up makerspace at River Ridge Elementary School


Have you ever been to a pop-up makerspace? Chances are you may have been to a pop-up gallery or pop-up retail shop, but pop-up makerspaces count for the same element of surprise and excitement to capture students’ imaginations and inspire making in context. Last month UDT and the leadership of River Ridge Elementary in Austin, Texas were faced with the following challenge. To build a temporary makerspace for students from Kindergarten – fifth grade, allowing them full hands-on exploration. Principal Shelley Roberts and instructional coach Jennifer Passi envision the students from River Ridge Elementary in a cutting-edge dedicated space, where they can explore new technologies, innovate with the latest tools and extend their learning from the classroom to become a creative entrepreneur.

“We saw over 650 kids that were able to go into this space. We saw their reactions and where they wanted to go with it, which was huge for us to be able to showcase,” said Jennifer Passi, Instructional Coach at River Ridge Elementary. “It was amazing. Principal Shelley Roberts and I had tears in our eyes because we couldn’t believe we were able to give the kids the opportunity to launch themselves into a different kind of thinking.”

The pop-up makerspace was a collaborative effort between UDT and River Ridge Elementary. After meeting at the TCEA 2017 conference, the team from UDT met with the school to see what their needs were and then customized this solution for them. The parents were also involved in the process, allowing for the space to be a truly collaborative effort between the school, the PTA, and UDT. Not only did UDT bring in the latest technology, but modified the parts so students of all ages could participate. While older children would write the programs to make the robots accomplish tasks, younger children could use remote controls instead. For the kindergarten students, cardboard pieces with pre-cut holes were provided to them, and they could wire the circuits through with ease.

“Makerspaces in K-12 are quickly becoming one of the most exciting and inclusive learning environments in education today. Every student no matter their skill level has the ability to MAKE. A modern makerspace allows students to apply novel and adaptive thinking, while collaborating with others, and defining their own unique ability to contribute,” said Daniel Rodriguez, Chief Technology Officer at UDT. “We are filling these spaces with many different types of materials and technologies, and just when I thought I have seen it all, these kids build something that blows me away. I am really excited to see what these young and inspired MAKERS create and code next.”

When not tinkering with 3D printers and robots, students also had the opportunity to use the VR goggles to explore. This space allowed for some students, who typically do not volunteer in class, a new, interactive environment where they felt comfortable to participate. The makerspaces provide an opportunity for students of all ages to engage with technology and gain an interest in STEAM, and ultimately expose them to the kind of skills needed for their future success.

Schools around the country are being challenged to create a learning experience that is driven by their interest and passions, and inspires creativity. At the same time, they are deepening their skills in STEAM. Shelley Roberts and Jennifer Passi from River Ridge met this challenge by activating a pop-up makerspace, and their results not only inspired students throughout the day but helped to inspire teachers, administrators and parents to build out their vision for River Ridge Elementary’s unique innovation.

UDT partners with schools and districts to help build powerful learning experiences in a rapidly advancing digital world. UDT can help schools fast track their makerspace, innovation lab, STEAM learning and other digital initiatives. To learn more about how UDT can help your school, or build your own pop-up makerspace, click below.

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