Recently, students at Ogden Elementary were challenged to use their problem-solving skills to build a mousetrap, but it wasn’t the typical “better” mousetrap. The young would-be engineers were asked to design and build a device that would keep a mouse safe from danger.

The assignment was just one project students have explored in their school’s makerspace. Making, now in its second year at Ogden, engages students in their learning by allowing them to experiment, create and find solutions to problems.

Principal April Whipple and teacher/makerspace coach Rob Harsch shared the Ogden makerspace experience at the March 27 school board meeting. Ogden is a district pilot site for Vancouver Public Schools’ vision of flexible learning.

“Making has a clear focus on the four Cs—collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking—along with project-based learning,” said Whipple. “With this vision, we’re thinking about flexible learning spaces and putting students at the center of their learning.”

The makerspace, a dedicated room outfitted with supplies, tools and workstations, is used by teachers and students on a rotating basis. In addition, a mobile maker kit allows teachers to do project-based learning in the classroom. Everything in the makerspace connects back to learning standards. Professional development provides teachers the capacity to embed the practice across all curricular areas.

“We always try to infuse science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics in everything we do,” said Harsch. “We want our students to fully explore, be creative, invent, tinker and discover who they are in this amazing space.”

Educators at Ogden are looking to the future with construction of their new school only one year away. The new school will have two makerspaces—a “messy” space for design and construction and a clean space for robotics and electronics.

“We are taking what we’ve learned to impact the design of the new Ogden,” said Whipple. “We want to make sure the four Cs, project-based learning and students are at the center of learning throughout the building and the curriculum.”