Roanoke Co students problem solve with project-based learning

Roanoke Co students problem solve with project-based learning (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Inside Patricia Gentry's class at Cave Spring Middle, celebrations are common.

"That is very common, very common in here," said Special Education Teacher, Gentry. "They asked for Makerspace all the time, when are we doing it."

Cave Spring is one of three county schools taking part in Makerspace. The idea of promoting critical thinking and problem solving through hands-on-learning is not a new concept but instruction technology resource teacher Meg Swecker says using it on children with special needs, is.

"Special needs kids spend a lot of time in remediation working. On skills that they're not successful with and that takes the fun out of learning," Swecker said.

But with Makerspace, there's no right or wrong and there are multiple ways to reach a goal. The only limit is a student's imagination when it comes to creating a solution to a challenge by their own design.

Wednesday's challenge consists of designing a simple lever to free "The Littles," figures created using a 3D printer. They also use robotics to learn about direction, both low and high-tech challenges with a positive outcome.

"We're helping them learn how to think that's really what we want," Swecker said.

"They're communicating more they're trying more they're wanting to take those risks and they're wanting to do these activities and they're having fun doing it," Gentry said.

Roanoke County hopes to expand Makerspace in other schools and for students outside special education.