by Maddie Schaafsma
Fifth grader Anna Fisher was busy designing a mousetrap car out of cardboard and rubber bands. “When I’m older,” said Anna, while adjusting rubber bands over an empty macaroni and cheese box, “I want to be an architect. I love designing and building things at home and I finally have the opportunity to do it at school.”
Maker’s Week was designed to ignite creativity in kids.
New to Timothy this year, Maker’s Week was inspired by a program at Holland Christian School in Michigan. Kris Wise, the Director of Teaching and Learning at Timothy, wanted to start this program because of the new and changing science curriculum. “I have been looking for STEM opportunities,” said Mrs. Wise. “This was a great way to get started, because we are adding more engineering and design to our new science curriculum.”
STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, is now the focus in the science departments. Maker’s Week was designed to encourage students to work independently. Teachers still had a presence in their classrooms, but instead of giving directions, teachers just asked questions. For example, as students created their own designs teachers asked: “How are you building this? Do you think it will work?”
Maker’s Week was all about little structure, less direction, and more creativity.
A lot of planning went into the initiative, since each grade level needed age-appropriate activities that would challenge and excite them. The projects included both hi-tech and low-tech challenges. They included mousetrap cars, egg drop, Rube Goldberg machines, green screen classes, and many more. Some classes included robots and iPads, while others were simply just cloths, string, and Styrofoam.
“I’m thrilled to see Maker’s Week in action,” said Principal Dr. Tim Hoeksema. “The kids are having big fun, the teachers have been extremely supportive, and Mrs. Wise has done a great job coordinating things.”
All week, the normally quiet hallways were filled with students rehearsing commercials in front of a green screen, testing mousetrap cars, and admiring eggs that survived the egg drops. Meanwhile, in the mini-gym students worked hard to build Rube Goldberg contraptions, making complex machines that perform simple tasks.
Mr. Ken Scholma, a fourth grade teacher, led the egg drop class, where students were challenged to make a contraption that kept an egg safe and intact after a 10 foot drop from the playground equipment. The students started in the classroom, designing their own contraptions. Some students used boxes and bubble wrap, while others made parachutes out of paper bags.
“We are allowing the kids a different venue to learn,” said Mr. Scholma. “It’s engineering, math, and technology. It’s fun for the students and the staff.”
Before heading out to the playground, the kids voted on whether the designs would protect the eggs. Hands shot in the air as they voted on which eggs would survive the drop. As the class headed out to the playground, students flocked around Mr. Scholma. One by one, the eggs were released from the playground equipment, and the number of intact eggs increased. Students returned to the classroom all smiles, showing off their eggs that passed the drop test.
“I’ve been hearing from different parents that this is all the kids talk about at dinner, they are so excited about Maker’s Week,” said Mrs. Wise. “And of course, the kids are so good at everything.”
Maker’s Week was an exciting week of creating and learning new things. And as fourth grader Nate Schuurmann put it: “It’s a chance to make new things and make new friends.”
About the author: Maddie Schaafsma, junior at Timothy Christian Schools, has attended TC since pre-school. She has been playing soccer all her life and has been on Timothy's Varsity team since freshman year. Writing is her passion, and she hopes to be a reporter for ABC news one day! Above all, Maddie strives to serve and glorify the Lord in all she does.