Education meets creativity

The West High Library’s decision to embrace the makerspace movement inspired the purchase of a button machine.


Aditi Borde

The button maker arrived in September and is located in the library.

Natalie Dunlap, Online Editor-in-Chief

Creativity. It’s often overlooked in the class curriculum and overshadowed by academics, but the makerspace movement that has become popular in school libraries is about creating a space for creativity and hands on experiences for students.

For many schools, the movement was a way to draw kids into the library, but in the years where West had more than 2,000 students, getting students in the library was never a challenge. Librarian Jill Hofmockel noted that, when  crowded, the library felt more like a lounge.

After a portion of West’s population migrated to Liberty High, the librarians had a chance to integrate the ideas of makerspace into the school.

“Now that we kind of have a little more room to work with, with fewer people in the building, we decided we wanted to pivot to looking at this makerspace thing,”  Hofmockel said.

The movement is meant to support creativity in students and allow kids to work with their hands. Some junior highs have sewing machines or Legos, but for her high school students Hofmockel has a different vision. She wants to transform the western teaching area of the library into a makerspace hub.

“We’re going to put some cabinets out to have available for kids during the day. We’re gonna have some robots that you can program, we’re going to have some virtual reality goggles with, we bought little iPod touches that can go with them and some of those snap circuit things,” Hofmockel said. “… things that are more manipulative or maybe more design focused or maybe more tech focused.”

She is hoping to have the area set up in January. The West librarians are also considering opening up the library during AFT so students have time to use those tools.

While that project is still in the works, there is already one tool in the library students can use: the new button machine.

The button machine was ordered in September and is open for any students to use. The buttons are made from 2.25 by 2.25 inch images such as drawings, printed photos or pages from the recycled book pile in the library. There are currently enough supplies to make about a thousand buttons and media secretary Claire Matthews says it’s a simple process any student can do.

“It’s honestly pretty straightforward as long as you do it step by step, it doesn’t’ take much,”  Matthews said. “And then by the time you do one or two it would take seconds to just crank them out if you would want to.”