Smith Center Elementary

Smith Center Elementary (SCE) has recently started to take time out of each school day for the student body to participate in "makerspace" or also referred to as "STARS time." Makerspace is a time that provides hands-on creative ways for students to design, experiment and invent while engaging in science, engineering and tinkering. Though makerspace had already been introduced, teachers at SCE were supplying the materials for this program from their classrooms, brought from home or purchased out of pocket.

The Smith County Community Foundation awarded USD 237 funding to purchase a variety of items for the kindergarten through sixth grade classes, including Lego sets and K.NEX building sets, Circuits Electronic Kits, a mini sewing machine, stick connector kits, puzzles, magnet kits, brain games and more. Grantee Bree Wilson shared a quote from Gary Stager, co-author of Invent to Learn, who said, "The best way to activate your classroom is for your students to make something."

Staff at Smith Center Elementary have noticed a change in behaviors as well as school work completed. "Being awarded funding for our STARS time has made all the difference in the success or failure of the program. If our students are behind on classroom work or misbehave, they no longer lose valuable recess time. Now the students lose their creative time, which they actually fight harder for. Behaviors are down in the fifth grade classrooms! Absent work is caught up all the time because kids do not want to miss their creative STARS time," said Katie Grabast, fifth grade teacher at SCE. "This program is a success and everyone can find something they love! Kids are doing better in school because recess is no longer taken. Behavior referrals lessened because they are losing something they truly care about and are invested in. Students are finding potential and confidence through creative projects!"