Dry-erase walls, a sewing machine and a Smart Board are just a few features in the new makerspace for early and elementary education majors. The makerspace is the result of a collaborative effort between the early and elementary education living learning community and Housing and Residence Life.

Housed on the seventh floor in Studebaker Hall West, the makerspace provides students with a space to collaborate with other pre-service teachers while learning how to use new technologies.

"This is their play place. This is where they get to practice becoming teachers," said Dixie Denton, co-director of the MakerStudio and sponsor of the early and elementary education LLC.

In addition to materials in the MakerStudio, materials are available across the hall in the MakerStudio library. The library is stocked with materials from Bracken Library's education resources, but students have the liberty to use them in a space of their own. 

"They might be able to check books out and play with puppets, but they wouldn’t be able to create and make things. So, that’s kind of nice and they also may not be able to talk openly. [When] you think about the library, you think of a quiet space. This space doesn’t have to be quiet,” Denton said.

Even the walls in the makerspace serve as a resource for students.

"This is a place where they can practice math facts, practice writing, put together words to do word walls or just whatever you might do in a classroom," Denton said. "Right now, they’re expressing themselves. So if you read some of the little sayings on the wall, you’ll see that they like this space."

The space was fostered through an idea by Kate Shively, co-director of the MakerStudio and assistant professor of elementary education.

"What I had done was started talking with Joel Bynum, who is the director of the residential halls and the LLC program, and I planted the seed ... in October last fall," Shively said.

Shively began her career at Ball State two years ago, but she already has knowledge of makerspaces due to research she conducted during her time as a graduate student.

Despite the MakerStudio being a pilot, Shively said the space has received a lot of student volunteers.

"We had about 20 students who volunteered for this makerspace this semester," Shively said. "I have been really impressed with that and I just think that speaks volumes about the caliber of student we have here."

James Colter, a freshman elementary education major, is one of these volunteers. Colter, through collaboration with Keaton Bailey, another freshman elementary education major, was able to establish office hours in the MakerStudio.

"We thought that people, if they wanted to come up there and if they needed help with maybe the Smart Board or the Cricut or even the sewing machine, that someone should be up there to help them that kind of is familiar with what’s in there," Colter said.

Bailey, along with Colter, is one of the volunteers who helps with technology.

"There’s no point in saying, ‘I’m bad with technology, I’m not gonna learn technology, I’ll just do everything the old-school way when I get my degree because there is no way you can,'" Bailey said. 

The future of the makerspace is dependent upon student use and feedback. So far, students have requested more technology in the MakerStudio.

“I’m definitely hoping for a lot more technology based things considering that we’re going through kind of a phase where classrooms are becoming more technology [centered] and all of that stuff," Colter said. "So I’m hoping to see a lot more tech in there, as well as just places to make it a space where you can hang out because that’s where it’s kind of going as well."