Fab Lab/Makerspace Metrics
By Greg Herker
Tracking usage of your Fab Lab or Makerspace is a MUST!!!
That being said, make them feel really good about this investment in resources, and build a desire to keep the momentum going. You can do that by tracking some basic metrics and reporting out annually to your School Board. This does not have to be complex or time consuming.
First, make sure that you utilize a basic sign-in sheet for students or classes. Recording the number of participants and activity engaged in is a good start. Even better, is if you can breakdown which academic program is being supported. For example, (TH- after school – 8 students from PLTW intro to engineering working on semester project), or (2nd period – 22 students from 7th Grade Art working with laser engraver). Then you can prepare a weekly or monthly summary that will allow you to put together a semester or annual report.
As you gather data, this will also allow you to reach out to those areas that may not be leveraging the Fab Lab/Makerspace. It is important to invite all disciplines in and make them feel comfortable. The most successful Fab Lab/Makerspace programs service and engage students from a wide variety of academics. I have yet to encounter an area where I have not been able to develop meaningful academic interactions. That is really your key metric, by having your Fab Lab/Makerspace well utilized in a cross-discipline manner across your entire campus. Your space has now become an essential part of the academic experience at your school, and therefore a priority when funding decisions are being made.
Other areas to track would be any business and community engagement you develop, social media posts about your space, and any media mentions. As your space matures, make note of any success stories. For instance, maybe year over year enrollment in your 9th grade Intro to Engineering Program saw a 30% increase in female participation as these students learned about the program from designing in the Fab Lab/Makerspace.
So gather your data and success stories, and ask annually to get 10 minutes on the School Board Agenda so you can give a brief update on the exciting things happening in your space. Better yet, invite them over to your space for a detailed show and tell, and have them participate in an activity led by students.
By tracking and reporting out some basic metrics, you will make it less likely your School Board will dismiss your program, and much more likely they will be asking how to grow your success.