Hackensack Middle School Media Center’s biggest success during the 2015-2016 school year was its creation of a mini makerspace named “MIOBI Lab”. “MIOBI” stands for “make it or break it” – and student participants would soon learn why. The ten member group met once a week for an hour after school in the Media Center and was led by the full-time certified school librarian and one certified Science teacher. This was a volunteer effort and the partnership naturally formed based off of other successful collaborations between the school librarian and this science teacher in support of expanding STEM curriculum.

Students Working
Students worked in pairs to strategize how they would deconstruct their calculator, and recorded each step on paper.

Students soon learned the meaning of the name MIOBI Lab; they not only had the chance to make something new (art bots, Scratch animations, crocheting projects) but also had the chance to break things…thoughtfully, of course. One of the most successful MIOBI Lab projects occurred in February when students had the chance to take apart a calculator. These calculators had been donated to the library by a cafeteria program years ago, and sat on a shelf gathering dust. The calculators received a second chance in the spotlight when MIOBI Lab students enthusiastically took to them with tweezers, pry tools, and tiny screwdrivers. Students worked in pairs to strategize dismantling the calculator. Some used prior knowledge, others referenced library resources including Internet searching. Many took risks and bravely poked and prodded. The only rule was to clearly record their steps with the hopes that if followed backwards, the calculator could be put back together. One team was successful in doing so!

Tech Take Apart
A calculator deconstructed by students as part of a MIOBI Lab project.

This program caught the attention of administration, and the MIOBI Lab students were invited to speak at a March Board of Education meeting. These students eloquently emphasized that MIOBI Lab provided them with a chance to problem-solve better, a skill that could be taken with them into the classroom. Some students appreciated the ability to work with their hands, which aligned with their future career goals. The most common sentiment from the students that spoke was that MIOBI Lab gave them something to do. These students viewed their school library as the treasured “third space” – not the classroom, and not the home, but a third space for learning, play, and building peer relationships.


MaureenCarrollMaureen Carroll

School Library Media Specialist
Hackensack Middle School
Bergen County, NJ

Maureen Carroll has worked for four years as a school library media specialist at Hackensack Middle School in Bergen County, NJ. She was recently honored to have been named ‘Teacher of the Year’ by her colleagues.

Students Succeed Through Hands-On Learning at Hackensack Middle School
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