What are Makerspaces?


The turn of the 21st century has signaled a shift in what types of skillsets have real, applicable value in a rapidly advancing world. In this landscape, creativity, design and engineering are making their way to the forefront of educational considerations as tools such as 3D printers, robotics, and 3D modeling web-based applications become accessible to more people. The question of how to renovate or repurpose classrooms to address the needs of the future is being answered through the concept of Makerspaces, or workshops that offer tools and the learning experiences needed to help people carry out their ideas. Makerspaces are intended to appeal to people of all ages, and are founded an openness to experiment, iterate, and create. The driving force behind Makerspaces is rooted in the Maker movement, a following comprised of artists, tech enthusiasts, engineers, builders, tinkerers, and anyone else who has a passion for making things. The formation of the movement stems from the success of the Maker Faire, a gathering that launched in 2006, and has since propagated itself into numerous community-driven events all over the world.

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1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The 'first world' sees an ever declining interest in the technical professions that are needed to sustain a modern society. The Maker movement celebrates the creativity, pleasure and motivation that comes from actually making something yourself (again). This can/will impact and hopefully rejuvenate the interest in more technical studies/professions. Human beings are fundamentally tool makers, the Maker movement shows people that they can also make something themselves using seemingly complex parts like computers, sensors, programming langueges, etc. Especially the Arduino hardware platform lowers the barrier to become a 'tinkerer' with computer technology. In vocational education but also (tech oriented) high schools this technology is adopted rapidly, enablink phycics teachers to reinvent themselves and show the joy they have had with their area of work.- M.vanWetering M.vanWetering Oct 21, 2013
  • As stated above, rejuvenation of tech subjects and studies. Rediscovering the FUN in tech. Broadly speaking all children/students should have a basic understanding of the technology that more and more defines their living/working space. In the process the 'technies' get in touch with their passion early in their education, improving chances that we find the engineers we need in our modern society. - M.vanWetering M.vanWetering Oct 21, 2013
  • Helps children really understand the fundamentals of how things work. It reinforces scientific and mathematical concepts taught in schools, whilst making them highly relevant to everyday life (essential for really 'knowing' and understanding!). And yes, we shouldn't overlook the fun aspect - the best learning should be fun and highly engaging, and the novelty of this also shouldn't be overlooked. I agree that it can help inspire (or foster) creativity and encourage any prospective engineers. It can also, in the right way, be a way in which to encourage girls to develop their scientific and engineering skills and maybe help prevent the decline of women in STEM subjects. - elizabeth.fitzgerald elizabeth.fitzgerald Oct 30, 2013
  • Maker Spaces encourage curiosity and an appetite for challenges. So much of 'making' is now bound up in technologies that require coding, we should consider the Coder movement, as included or aligned with the maker movement. - jimdevine jimdevine Oct 30, 2013
  • It's relevant because it breads curiosity to know why and how. Too often we take things for granted, e.g. we never ask ourselves how come toothpaste comes out of the tube in two different colors? Even if we do, we never really go out to do a hands on experience to find out the answer. Makerspacaes in schools, or in the nearby community where schools are, could provide access to do so. In Finland there is a real tinkering culture since old days which is of course disappearing nowadays. In the 90's (an anecdote), technology studies in primary school were compulsory for both girls and boys, and if I'm not mistaken, they still are (at least the topic called "technology and the individual" is still part of the core). The workshops have real machinery and you are encouraged to take real challenges from everyday life to find/figure out things. My teacher had an example that at least every kid should know how to read the IKEA manual for assembling a piece of furniture. I think the strength of having Makerspaces could come from that kind of attitude. - Riina_Vuorikari Riina_Vuorikari Oct 30, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The whole community aspect is missing (it used to be freaks in garages, now its freaks in garages working together over the internet - limor fried), the internet connects all tinkerers who can show each other their designs and instructions to copy experiments and improve on them. 3D models can be downloaded or offered for (small scale) production ( http://www.shapeways.com/). - M.vanWetering M.vanWetering Oct 21, 2013
  • yes, we need to consider the social aspects - this is critical - can be F2F e.g. maker fayres, maker camps or school clubs etc. or can be online. Also consider peer feedback and validation, and the way in which mentoring can lead novices to becoming more expert and then helping out others in turn. - elizabeth.fitzgerald elizabeth.fitzgerald Oct 30, 2013
  • learning can occur through the gradual introduction of a learner into a community of peers. Learning is initially achieved through watching and undertaking simple tasks (‘legitimate peripheral participation’). - elizabeth.fitzgerald elizabeth.fitzgerald Oct 30, 2013
  • A Design Thinking mindset is required and school curricula (and teacher initial education and CPD) should include a Design Thinking component, e.g., what is provided by IDEO in their Design Thinking for Educators kit: http://www.ideo.com/work/toolkit-for-educators - jimdevine jimdevine Oct 30, 2013


(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on European schools education?

  • Opportunites to improve the image of tech subject and education. - M.vanWetering M.vanWetering Oct 21, 2013
  • Expanding 'hand-on' projects with paper, glue and scissors to arduino boards, sensors and a few lines of program code. - M.vanWetering M.vanWetering Oct 21, 2013
  • potential for extra-curricular clubs to form around maker learning - e.g. lunchtime/after school/in school holidays - and thus provide fantastic opportunities for semi-formal learning to reinforce concepts taught in lessons. Some funders e.g. Nesta in the UK are looking at ways of funding maker learning, to "significantly increase the number of young people who participate in digital making activities".- elizabeth.fitzgerald elizabeth.fitzgerald Oct 30, 2013
  • add your response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?