During a recent enrichment activity, we asked our students to participate in an "Improve It!" challenge, an idea from Childhood101. We collected a wide range of ordinary objects, things such as:
They could be creative as well and think of other objects -- something inside their pencil case or backpack, from their locker or bedroom. Once settled upon an item, students had to brainstorm any and all ideas for improving the object. The ideas could be practical, silly, within the realm of possibility or potentially impossible. Many of then drew out models and those who decided a plan quickly, jumped into our makerspace to find materials and began creating prototypes.
Improving an ordinary object, fits, no question, into the open-ended work done in a makerspace. However, it could also easily fit into a U.S. History unit when discussing the technological advances of Westward Expansion or the inventions of the first part of the 20th century. Or, incorporated into a Life Science class when addressing animal adaptations. Instead of objects, students could problem solve and figure out how to make a process better (such as voting in a Civics class) or improve some aspect of their own community.