Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Mrs. Smay & Makerspace at SXSWedu

After 43 years as a librarian, Dottie Smay decided she wanted a space where her students could focus on innovation and creativity. Smay, whose creativity and dedication to inspiring her students at Shorecrest is evident in everything she does, along with her partner in crime, Upper and Middle School librarian Courtney Walker, weren’t going to wait around to make it happen. She decided the Follett Challenge—a contest designed to reward innovation in schools - and the fact that her superintendent was on vacation - was the perfect excuse! With a saw, a gallon of paint, and Dottie’s signature determination, she transformed her library into a vibrant Makerspace with minimal expense.

Smay used her 3D printer to make gingerbread men to introduce the new Makerspace to Lower School students. A giant pumpkin forced Kindergartners to “Make” ways to transport it from the LS breezeway to their classroom. The students initially thought they needed a dad or even Superman to move the pumpkin, but through research, design, collaboration and critical thinking, they managed to move the pumpkin successfully! The learning didn’t stop there... Using cardboard and duct tape, students made prototypes of their pumpkin-moving devices.

Smay says, “Even the tiny kids learn problem solving and critical thinking skills because the pumpkin seeds helped teach counting and basic science.” At SXSWedu, Smay challenged conference attendees to, “Just do it! One person’s trash is another’s Makerspace! Don’t wait for funding. You don’t need a 3D printer. Look around at what you already have for resources and space.”

View a video of the SXSW panel with Mrs. Smay here:

Shorecrest Preparatory School

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191

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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.