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Makerspaces

What are makerspaces?

Makerspaces are collaborative workshops where young people gain practical hands-on experience with new technologies and innovative processes to design and build projects. They provide a flexible environment where learning is made physical by applying science, technology, math, and creativity to solve problems and build things.

Maker Media, 2012 1

Kim Baars describes the learning taking place in Maker classes at Taupaki School. Kim talks about teachers and students working together in collaborative problem-solving, and the powerful differentiation taking place in the makerspace.

Makerspaces in school 

"Wherever making happens is a makerspace"

 Burke, 20142

  • A makerspace can be any space in your school where students and teachers come together to create, invent, prototype, design, tinker, explore, discover, code, build, craft, draft, draw and more.
  • Students can work individually or collaboratively using a variety of high and low-tech tools and materials.
  • Makerspaces typically have a STEM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths). However, makerspace is an ideal platform for projects that work across all subject areas.

Fab Lab and Wellington Girls College

Wendy Neale, Fab Lab manager, explains – a Fab Lab is part of a global network and has to have a certain range of shared capabilities. A lot of what happens in the Fab Lab is about people trying out things, talking with each other, getting inspired by each other, and sharing ideas when they get stuck.

Because knowledge-sharing is at the heart of the maker movement, individual makers can draw on a wide range of expertise and human resources. No question is too simple. Encourage students to post on the relevant forums and contact the right experts for help with their projects. Even if your makerspace is in a repurposed shed on the edge of the school grounds, it will essentially be part of a broader community – a local and global culture of making.

Students at work in a MakerSpace

Image by Don Debold

For students involved in makerspace, this culture of sharing encourages making connections and working collaboratively with people relevant to their project goals.     

Hubs to access the NZ maker community

Makers Org NZ   

A national network of people interested in community, new-digital literacy and/or making and learning in New Zealand. 

Ministry of Make NZ   

A community hub for schools, teachers and students to make, create, and share using tools of the day in a fun and social environment. 

Makerhood  

A network of people and organisations that promote maker culture, based physically in South Auckland and digitally across New Zealand.

Makerspace New Zealand   

Makerspace technology recommendations for businesses and classrooms.

Beyond New Zealand
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MakerSpace

Once you've established your makerspace, sign up to makerspace.com  to join the Makerspace list and connect with makers around the world.

"Learning environments rich with possibilities, makerspaces serve as gathering points where communities of new and experienced makers connect to work on real and personally meaningful projects, informed by helpful mentors and expertise, using new technologies and traditional tools." 

Maker Media, 2013 3

Students at work in a MakerSpace

Image by Mitch Altman

Having a makerspace is a perfect opportunity for whānau and community engagement

  • Whanaungatanga – Involve whānau in makerspace projects 
    The makerspace offers an opportunity for whānau to get involved in their child's learning. They can participate in making, workshopping ideas, or helping to judge and evaluate projects.
     
  • Bring in an expert 
    Identify parents, whānau, and wider community connections that have a trade or craft. Bring them into your makerspace to offer advice or teach a skill.
  • Engage with local businesses 
    Ask your local architecture firm, manufacturer, or tech company to get involved. They might have not only expert advice to offer, but also spare equipment and materials.
     
  • Tuakana-teina 
    Having an older or more expert learner help and guide those who are younger is an effective way for students to share expertise and learn together. The makerspace is an opportunity to develop tuakana-teina relationships. 

Makerspaces around the world are part of a growing movement of hands-on, mentor-led learning environments that celebrate grass roots innovation and DIY (Do-it-yourself) culture. At the core of the the maker movement is the notion that we aren't just passive consumers of new technologies – we can be producers too.

Maker faire

The cultural epicentre of the maker movement is the Maker Faire  – an all-ages gathering for hobbyists, educators, students, designers, tech-enthusiasts, artists, and engineers to show-and-tell their latest DIY projects and innovations. The first maker faires were organised by Make Magazine , the defining publication of the maker movement in the US, but local maker communities have since popped up all over the world. Makers tend to stay connected through online community spaces and social media, as well as through their local makerspaces.

Sharing

A guiding principal of maker culture is sharing. This includes sharing of knowledge and technologies; tools and materials; techniques, skills, and ideas; and more importantly – the projects created in makerspaces.

References

1  Maker Media, (2012) High school makerspace tools and materials . Make Magazine 

2  Burke, John J, (2014) Makerspaces: A Practical Guide for Librarians. Washington, D.C. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

3  Maker Media, (2013) Makerspace playbook: School book edition . Make Magazine.

A makerspace can be embedded in an existing part of your school or stand alone. A makerspace could be in a classroom, library, shed, garden, or hallway. It could even be a pop-up or mobile makerspace. It's not about the space, but the culture and mindset that the space promotes and develops an innovation mindset.

Cohen, 2016 1

Students and teacher working in a MakerSpace

Image by Wesley Fryer

Choices of location for makerspaces vary from school to school according to resources and learning goals. Some are purpose-built for particular kinds of projects, with a permanent fit-out of equipment and tools. Others are distributed throughout the school, with multiple locations (e.g. home-economics room, music room, computer lab) co-opted towards making.

Common location choices for school makerspaces 

"The best makerspace is between your ears."

Stager, 20142

The library 

The school library is often the hub of the school and easily accessible by all students, so schools often set up makerspaces here. 

The computer lab

Instead of updating old desktop computers, some schools are taking advantage of BYOD capabilities. Students come and go with their laptops and ipads, allowing desks to be cleared for making.

The classroom 

Any classroom can be transformed into a makerspace. The furnishing in makerspace classrooms is organised in a way that allows for both collaborative and individual work.

Outdoors

Making outdoors is an opportunity to solve problems, innovate, and create through gardening.

More information »

"A collection of tools does not define Makerspace. Rather, we define it by what it enables: making."

Maker Media, 2013 3

Classroom MakerSpace

Image by Digitalskennedy

Makerspaces range from the ultra high-tech "fab-lab" (small scale workshop replete with 3D printers, scanners, and laser cutters) to a classroom desk scattered with recycled materials and tools.

The tools and equipment in your makerspace's inventory depend on:

  • your educational goals
  • your students' creative interests
  • your budget.
Common makerspace tools
Inexpensive
High-end
More information »
Identify safe practices and potential risks and hazards with your students 
  • Model safe behaviour
  • Post safety guideline signs on tools
  • Remove hazards by keeping your space clean
  • Check that there is proper ventilation to your space
  • Watch out for extension cords and other tripping hazards
  • Make sure there is enough space for students to work comfortably
  • Keep a well-stocked first aid kit visible and easily accessible in your space
  • Provide personal safety equipment such as goggles, earplugs, gloves, etc. 
  • Decide on and develop some common makerspace rules 
More information»
References

1 Joachim Cohen, (2016) Everything you need to know about makerspacesSplash ABC. 

2 Gary Stager, (June 10, 2014) "Gary Stager’s Full ASCD Interview About Making.”  Stager-to-Go (blog). June 10, 2014

3 Maker Media, (2013) Makerspace playbook: School book edition . Make Magazine.

Makerspace learning 

"At the heart of the maker movement is this mashing together of traditionally siloed areas. Art, technology, design, music, film, science all come crashing together in the maker movement."
 
Mark Osbourne

Examples of learning

The types of learning and creating that can be done in a makerspace are limitless.

Coding
Rasberry Pi in hand

Image by Kritsadaj

Build a morse code virtual radio using a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, morse tapper key, speakers, and some jumper wires.

See the full copy of the lesson plan  with coding instructions at www.raspberrypi.org .

Key Skills: Circuitry, electronics, coding, digital fluency, STEM, problem-solving. 

Interdisciplinary potential: This lesson could add authenticity to a history project about war-time communications. 

More information »
3D printing
3D printer

Image by Mebner1

Students learn about an object they are researching (e.g. planet earth, the sun, a plant, the pyramids, a body part) by creating a 3D-printed model of it.

Students print parts needed to build an object e.g. a movable robot that is controlled through coding.

Key Skills: CAD design, maths, art, engineering, fabrication. 

Interdisciplinary potential: all subject areas.

3D printing lesson plans:
More information »
Robotics
Spher

Image by Lachlan Hardy

Use mobile apps to code a programmable robot like spherocubelet , or dash and dot  so that it emulates human emotions or character traits through its movements and behaviour.

Key Skills: Coding, literacy, performance, programming, digital fluency. 

Interdisciplinary potential:This activity would suit a drama or literacy focus exploring character development, or a lesson exploring key concepts in psychology.  

More information »
Technology
Cardboard furniture

Image by Ambrishraja

Challenge students to solve a problem in your school using cardboard.

Key Skills: design, problem-solving, collaboration 

Interdisciplinary potential: art, design, maths, technology 

More information »
More makerspace ideas

The most important benefits of maker education are neither STEM skills nor technical preparation for the next industrial revolution. Though these benefits may accrue along the way, the most salient benefits of maker-centered learning for young people have to do with developing a sense of self and a sense of community that empower them to engage with and shape the designed dimension of their world.

Agency by design, 2015 1

Benefits of maker spaces for learners
  • STEM skills Makerspaces provide authentic contexts for students to develop 21st century skills such as digital fluency, design acumen, and knowledge of coding and robotics.
     
  • Student inquiry
    Inquiry-based learning is embedded in maker culture. The open-ended nature of makerspace work is the perfect setting for ideating, solving problems, developing hunches, experimenting, and reflecting. Makerspaces give learners the chance to fail and try again until personal goals are achieved. "Play" is a key component.
      
  • Learner agency 
    Makerspaces are about choice. Students can set their own learning goals and decide for themselves the tools and materials they will use. Makerspace projects are ideal opportunities for solving real-world problems. Projects provide authentic contexts for student voice. "Empowerment" is a key concept.
     
  • Making horizontal connections, social learning, and co-construction of knowledge 
    Makerspaces are built on a culture of collaborative learning. They reach their full potential when they operate as communal spaces that connect mentors with peers and allow them to tinker, explore, and create together. For students, this means asking experts from the local community to participate in makerspace work, as well as drawing on the many makerspace communities available online. "Community" is key. 
Key resources
References

1Agency by Design. (2015). Maker-centered learning and the development of self: Preliminary findings of the agency by design project . Harvard Graduate School of Education

2Kurti, S. R., Kurti, D. L. & Fleming, L. (2014). The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces . Teacher Librarian.

Resources

School guides
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High school makerspace tools and materials

This US publication from Make Magazine offers a comprehensive guide for schools and teachers looking to establish makerspaces.

  • Please Note – Prices of tools and equipment are in American dollars.

Makerspace playbook: School book edition
Another in-depth guide on makerspaces from Make Magazine on school makerspaces.

MakerED

Non-profit organisation devoted to making and youth empowerment. Go here for loads of information on tools, projects ideas, and research on makerspaces. 

Education HQ New Zealand: How to start a makerspace in your school
Noelene Callaghan gives tips and tricks to setting up a school makerspace 

Makers Org NZ   

A national network of people interested in community, new-digital literacy and/or making and learning in New Zealand. 

Ministry of Make NZ   

A community hub for schools, teachers and students to make, create, and share using tools of the day in a fun and social environment. 

Makerhood  

A network of people and organisations that promote maker culture, based physically in South Auckland and digitally across New Zealand.

Makerspace New Zealand   

Makerspace technology recommendations for businesses and classrooms.  

Makerspace New Zealand Meetup  – Portal to register for makerspace workshops.

Community hubs beyond New Zealand:
Screen Shot 2016-12-17 at 7.53.12 pm

MakerSpace

Sign up to makerspace.com  to join the Makerspace list and connect with makers around the world.

Screen Shot 2016-12-20 at 3.03.48 pm

High school makerspace tools and materials

This US publication from Make Magazine offers a comprehensive guide for schools and teachers looking to establish makerspaces.

Note – Prices of tools and equipment are in American dollars.

Getting started with Arduino

Guide for educators wanting to incorporate microprocessors and coding into their practise 

Rasberry Pi in education (weblinks and resources)

Fantastic resources for incorporating the Raspberry Pi into lessons. 

Makey Makey lesson plans

Ideas and guides for using Makey Makey in the classroom. 

3D printing in the classroom

Web resources and lesson ideas for using 3D printing to enhance learning.  

Instructables

Web site specialising in user-created do-it-yourself projects. Fantastic source of inspiration and know-how for making.  

Key reading

Makerspace: Highlights of select literature

Steve Davee, Lisa Regalla, and Stephanie Chang conduct a thorough review of the research available on makerspaces in education.

Trend 7: Maker Culture

Mark Osborne from Core Education outlines why maker culture is one of the 10 trends in education.

VLN: Maker culture, is it really all that new?

Find out how New Zealand educators are using makerspaces.

Makerspaces in the school library environment
Megan Daley and Jackie Child on the benefits of setting up a makerspace in your school library. 

Everything you need to know about makerspaces

Joachim Cohen gives us an update on what's happening in schools in Australia and around the world.  

Gary Stager’s Full ASCD Interview About Making

Key makerspace thinker, Gary Stager discusses the maker mind-set.  

Maker-centered learning and the development of self: Preliminary findings of the agency by design project

This Harvard Graduate School of Education research paper discusses the pedagogical benefits of makerspaces.

The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces

This article by R. Steven Kurti, Debby L. Kurti and Laura Fleming highlights the benefits of having a makerspace in your school library.

e-Learning community discussions

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