MECC Kindergartners Collaborate, Create and Code with Launch Pad

MECC Kindergartners Collaborate, Create and Code with Launch Pad
Posted on 10/02/2018

Launch PadKindergarten students at Mason Early Childhood Center
can now experience the purpose of Dream Lab to the fullest.

MECC kindergarten teachers Lori Miller, Ragan Reeves and Krissy Hufnagel secured a $21,800 grant from the Mason Schools Foundation and partnered with School Outfitters' design team to create MECC's first Launch Pad - a shared pod where kindergarteners can collaborate, create and code.

The purpose of the Launch Pad is to develop the "maker mindset" early and prepare children for the essential creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills they will need as adults.

"Kindergarteners are naturally curious. If you ask them what they want to do, they say, 'I want to make a robot,' 'I want to build a city,' 'I want to make a video game.' There are so many opportunities for them,” shared Miller.

The Launch Pad aligns with Mason City School District's vision to progress students' maker skills throughout all grades. More makerspaces are planned throughout the Mason City School District with STEAM staff at every level who will encourage the maker mindset across all grade levels.

Before the Launch Pad, kindergarteners engaged in maker activities in the Dream Lab, a renovated area of the library used by all students at MECC. Half-day kindergarten sessions though created a challenge.

“Long walks and little feet mean that we truly only have about 15-20 minutes twice a month to grow the curiosity we want to spark in our kids Dream Lab,” shared Hufnagel. “Because of this, we wanted a way to integrate Dream Lab opportunities into daily learning.”

The shared makerspace also promotes greater student responsibility. It encourages children to assume leadership roles, and to be good stewards of the common area.

"Because they have to share materials, kids have to get what they need, and only what they need," says Ragan Reeves. "We have taught them how to manage supplies."

Rather than being in a big, open space and having to compete with older students for materials and work space, kindergartners are able to access the Launch Pad space each day, learning how to utilize materials and building the creative thinking that they will then pursue in a more independent manner as they move to first and second grade.

“We are truly laying the foundation for the thinkers, dreamers, and creators of tomorrow,” shared Reeves.
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