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(COLUMBIA, MO) – The Columbia Public Schools Foundation (CPSF) presented its 2015 grant award at Eliot Battle Elementary School Wednesday, Dec. 9. The nearly $35,000 grant will provide funds for MakerSpaces in media centers at ten CPS elementary schools.

Attendees toured Battle Elementary’s newly-opened MakerSpace classroom where students were engaged in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities.

Battle Elementary’s MakerSpace was established at the beginning of the 2015 academic school year with a grant from CPSF. Battle Elementary media specialist Kristen Burkemper was responsible for setting up the MakerSpace, ordering materials, working MakerSpace time into student schedules and supervising students in the MakerSpace classroom.

“A MakerSpace is a place people get together to make things,” Burkemper said. “The MakerSpace at Battle is a place for our students to do some exploratory learning and have creative control over their learning.”

Students agree that the program allows them to learn and explore outside of the classroom. “MakerSpace is really fun because we get to learn about cool things like robots and circuits,” said Landon, a Battle Elementary third grade student. “Instead of just reading about those things or our teacher telling us about them, we got to use them and figure out how they work!”

MakerSpaces promote STEM activities and provide a hands-on learning experience where children can flex their creative muscles and problem-solving skills. MakerSpace stations might focus on circuitry, design, electronics, robotics, building, coding, or other STEM skills. Supplies can include 3D printers, software, electronics, craft, and hardware supplies and tools, and everyday materials, all with the goal of engaging students with making technology and developing problem-solving skills.

“The Columbia Public Schools Foundation Board is always interested in funding grants that are innovative and which support the goals of the Columbia Public Schools. We saw MakerSpaces as a way to get kids interested in science, technology, and math at an early age,” said Nyle Klinginsmith, CPSF board president. “The U.S. will have an ever-increasing need for people to pursue careers in these fields and we’re excited at the thought of connecting students with materials and activities that will encourage those interests. We also know that in the hands of skillful staff members literacy goals can also be addressed as students read and learn more about areas of high interest.”

The MakerSpaces grant is also supported by the generosity of the Veterans United Foundation, which donated an additional $25,000 for the program.

The Columbia Public Schools Foundation is a private foundation established by community volunteers dedicated to the enrichment of public education through community giving. The Foundation has funded projects in every school, allocating more than $850,000 to enhance education in the Columbia Public Schools.

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