I frequently create signs or memes to try and inspire people to make or create. I post them on social media in the hopes that it will stir someone to try and create something new. The other day, I created a sort of organizational chart that asked the question "Why Should I Make?" Of course all avenues led the reader to try and make something, and in the process discover something new in themselves. After I made it, I wondered if these signs would also make a difference in a makerspace. Would they be noticed by students? Would it stir conversation about making, designing, and creating? So I took the sign I created (shown below), along with some others, and had them made into posters. The next day I hung them in the makerspace and waited for some reactions or at least a conversation or two about them.
Reactions came quickly, but not by students. Teachers reacted positively to them, but then I expected them too. after all, teachers and posters have been long time friends for years. I can't tell you how many times I've seen teachers get all excited about their latest free poster finds at conventions. So it was expected that they would appreciate them. As for the students? Well, I had to ask them. However, in their defense the school day is so hectic, there's really no time for reflection, which is a whole other article.
I asked one 5th grader what he thought about the message that "everyone should make" and the positiveness that making promotes. He just commented that it was "fun." Which is, although not why making is important, an important element in making. Another student asked me if he could make a poster for me to put up. While another just asked when was the next time his class was coming in to make something.
Although I didn't get the thought provoking effect I was hoping for, the posters tempered the other less visually appealing and not makerspace related information on the walls like the fire drill, and school rules. I think having positive messages about making is important in a space intended for making and creating if no other reason than to mark the space as such. So many schools are including make spaces that were originally something else, such as libraries and classrooms, that reminding students and teachers of their new intention is important. The reminder is even more important when the space is still shared with its earlier incarnation. A makerspace should never have to compete with science or math. If this is the case in your space, remember the atmosphere you create for students is as important as the tools and materials. Using posters as reminders is at least holding your ground!
These are the other posters I created and placed around the makerspace.