Stacy Brown, the Davis Academy’s 21st century learning coordinator, was part of a panel discussion March 5 at the education innovation portion of the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas.

Brown’s panel addressed “Makerspaces: Making Space for Diversity” and included a school library specialist from Athens, Andy Plemmons, as well as a professor in library science from the University of South Carolina.

Makerspaces provide powerful learning opportunities when an element of diversity is purposefully integrated into the experience.

“A makerspace can be designed as a place for people to connect, tinker and design with their hands,” Brown said. “Makerspaces don’t discriminate. They serve as a gathering place for deeper exploration, regardless of color, class, race, age or socioeconomic status.”

The panel introduced ways to infuse activities with content that will appeal to a variety of cultures, age groups and genders and will expand awareness of different socioeconomic groups.

“Having the opportunity to present, collaborate and share with impressive maker educators from around the globe that understand the value of inclusivity was a powerful experience,” Brown said. “As educators, we have a responsibility to identify our curricular blind spots in order to enhance our students’ abilities to successfully interact in a globally connected world. As a result of this experience, I have a renewed sense of purpose and an increased exposure to tangible tools to advance the curriculum.”