There’s no other Jewish holiday when building is so important, so we could say that Sukkot provides the quintessential “makerspace” for the Jewish people. Immediately after Yom Kippur, Jews around the world can be seen gathering materials and starting to build beautiful sukkot. Sukkot is the time of year when everyone, young and old, comes together to complete this special project - building and decorating the sukkah. With such a clear emphasis on building, Sukkot provides a fantastic opportunity for educators to try out project-based learning with their students, and also for students to connect their Jewish learning with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). Engaging students in a Sukkot makerspace or virtual building project is a great way to encourage the development of engineering skills, while also giving them the opportunity to create amazing 21st century decorations for the sukkah!
Makerbot is a 3D printer that your students can use to print just about anything. For Sukkot, why not have them print model food and other personalized sukkah decorations? Or, they could use traditional Jewish instructions and try to print a to-scale model sukkah! The possibilities are endless.
littleBits are color-coded electronic building blocks that can be used to make circuits and much more. They’re great for fostering teamwork, so why not have groups of students use them to create different kinds of lighting for the sukkah?
With MaKey MaKey, inanimate objects become interactive. Students can explore ways of using symbolic fruits, or other decorations, to light up the sukkah. Or, why not make a Play-Doh lulav and etrog, and wire them to teach something about the holiday?
Scratch is an online tool for creating interactive stories, games, and animations using blocks of pre-written code. Although it is not a maker tool, it draws on important engineering concepts. Students can work individually or collaboratively to create Sukkot-themed animations, fun Sukkot greeting cards for family and friends, and much more.
Lego Mindstorms isn’t just the robotics tools for your students to use, but is also comprised of software and curriculum, so that your makerspace can be seamlessly integrated into your classroom. Once your students understand the basics, they can build more complex robots, and perhaps even create one that will shake the lulav and etrog, to dazzle the younger students.
With Creative Circuit Kits, your students can use Blink Blink to engineer their own arts and crafts projects. What’s special about Blink Blink, though, is that it works with fabric, so your students will be able to engineer their own wearables. As the weather usually gets a bit cooler during Sukkot, why not have students create a light-up scarf for those chilly evenings in the sukkah during Chol HaMoed? The kits can also be used to make light up decorations and flowers for the sukkah.
Minecraft: Education Edition
Though the full version will launch on November 1, educators can experiment with the early access version for free! In this immersive virtual environment, students can work together and collaborate on building their own virtual sukkah according to the instructions in the Torah. Teachers could then help students along on their projects and in problem-solving by participating in the environment as a NPC (Non-Player Character). Another idea is to play out the entire course of the holiday inside the virtual world, from sukkah construction to blessings to meals in the sukkah throughout the holiday.
What are your favorite makerspace tools? Let us know in a comment below!
This is an updated version of a post originally published in fall 2015.