Dainfern College launches 4 collaborative, multi-functional ‘makerspaces’ to enhance 21st Century learning

Dainfern College launches 4 collaborative, multi-functional ‘makerspaces’ to enhance 21st Century learning
Ray van Gass, Acting Executive Head of Dainfern College and staff

Dainfern College continues to drive multi-functional study solutions for more students with today’s launch of four new collaborative learning spaces on its campus.

These ’makerspaces’ provide dedicated areas where students can focus on research, conceptualisation and creativity, in large and smaller groups, with furniture specially designed to be expanded and rearranged to suit the different activities.

Older students are provided with the tools to design and produce products, while younger students in Grades 0-3 are given hands-on learning experiences that ignite curiosity and foster creativity, with a strong focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) skills and inquiry-based learning.

“With the urgent need to give students more skills to cope and thrive in the 21st Century, these solutions help develop critical thinking and problem solving, setting the stage for a lifelong love of learning,” says Ray van Gass, Acting Executive Head of Dainfern College.

Van Gass points out that the two dedicated facilities in the Junior Preparatory are designed to provide young learners with a stimulating environment in which to explore, experiment and learn, while simultaneously preparing them for future academic and career success in STEAM fields and beyond.

“These two new makerspace facilities – the Imaginarium and the Light House – will provide an innovative and multi-functional educational environment designed for Grade 0-3 learners, while our other two spaces, Ubambiswano and the Garage, will cater for the needs and requirements of our Senior Preparatory and High School students,” explains Van Gass.

‘Ubambiswano’, meaning ‘teamwork’ in isiZulu, is a place of collaboration and learning. This versatile, multi-functional space not only houses the library for both the Senior Preparatory and the High School, but also serves as an exhibition and community space. The open-plan facility allows for and encourages collaboration, engagement and teamwork. A series of flexible spaces can be used for podcasts and vodcasts, meetings, training, inquiry-based learning, robotics, project work and student-led exploration.

The Garage makerspace, meanwhile, encourages and develops the ‘maker’ philosophy of Design, Make, Test, Iterate and Sell. It gives students a hands-on opportunity – and the necessary confidence – to use tools and technology to create products. Opportunities are provided to work with wood, acrylic, electronics, laser cutters, 3D printers and more. In order to use this space effectively, students will be taught the skills needed to successfully and safely operate all the tools and technology provided so that they can bring their designs to life.

“Dainfern College first opened its doors in 1997 and quickly established itself as a forward-thinking and innovative centre of independent educational excellence; with these new solutions we can continue this proud tradition,” says Van Gass.

Dainfern College was the first school in South Africa to incorporate the Mighty Minds curriculum into its teaching when it opened the Creativity Centre in 2000, based on Lego Dacta education kits. This technological innovation was followed in the ensuing years by the addition of an Apple Mac lab, mobile iPad labs and a ‘Bring-Your-Own-Device’ policy, where every student from Grade 4 to Grade 12 has their own tablet or laptop for use in class.

“The rapidly changing digital world has shaken up the education sector and the skill set required to thrive in the 21st Century. Curiosity, creativity, collaboration and problem solving have become key words in the educational space.

“These innovative new collaborative learning makerspaces on the Dainfern College campus will give students the opportunity to explore, design and create, tackling real-world challenges in a hands-on manner that promotes critical thinking and a growth mindset. The future just got a whole lot brighter!” concludes Van Gass.