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Lone Star College-North Harris Makerspace opens minds to ‘learning by doing’

The third floor of the Lone Star College-North Harris library used to be the quiet floor, where on occasion you could catch a student napping in between classes. Not anymore. These days the northwest corner of the building is bustling with activity in an area known as the Makerspace.

Students build, design, produce, create, duplicate and innovate either virtually or actually with the equipment housed in the space. Workshops are offered in an assortment of choices, including quilting, glass etching, milling, knitting and soldering, to name a few. 

How does this fit in a college library? Perfectly well, according to librarian Norma Drepaul who spotted the national trend about four years ago. Libraries are about knowledge, and people do that in more ways than reading.

“We started with a 3-D printer,” she says. She and her colleagues expected the graphic design students to be interested, but discovered, to their delight, many students outside the workforce program were drawn in. Art students, for example, were interested in learning to use the printer with their fine art projects. Other students, with more of a general interest orientation, came to use the printer, too. Students who are attracted to Makerspace seem to be those who want to expand a creative artistic talent and/or theoretical or applied technological expertise, no matter their major field of study.

Educators believe that students have different cognitive learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. The Makerspace addresses all three because students typically read a manual, watch a YouTube video and then actually design or construct something. It is the hands-on part that engages students in unexpected ways. The most rewarding for the librarians and faculty is seeing students begin to teach each other.

“Students are being exposed to learning outside the classroom in ways they’ve never thought,” Drepaul says. In addition to the open workshops and faculty bringing entire classes to Makerspace, individual students are coming on their own to explore the place. Some are making virtual art with digital pens, others are creating circuit boards, still others are milling names into wood blocks and using glue guns to make fabric cell phone covers--and more. 

About 300 students have come to Makerspace in the last three months, and Drepaul thinks the numbers will increase as the word gets out. She expects the space will expand as well, perhaps taking up the entire north end of the third floor, as students, staff and faculty continue to explore and push its boundaries.

Lone Star College-North Harris is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, one-half mile south of FM 1960 East, between Aldine-Westfield and Hardy Roads. For more information about the college, call 281.618.5400 or visit LoneStar.edu/NorthHarris.

Lone Star College has been opening doors to a better community for more than 40 years. Founded in 1973, LSC remains steadfast in its commitment to student success and credential completion. Today, with almost 83,000 students in credit classes, and a total enrollment of more than 95,000, Lone Star College is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area and one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the nation. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., is the chancellor of LSC, which consists of six colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, LSC-Tomball and LSC-University Park, seven centers, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.