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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. (Filmed September 2015) 

Julie McMahon shares how year nine students at St. Hilda's Collegiate School have used the creative side of electronics and programming to create e-textiles garments. 

Makerspaces in school 

"Wherever making happens is a makerspace"

 Burke, 2014

  • 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.

 Whānau and community engagement through makerspaces

"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. 

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.

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 NZ   

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

Makerspace New Zealand   

Makerspace technology recommendations for businesses and classrooms.

Beyond New Zealand


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

Stephen Lethbridge (former principal at Taupaki School) talks about how they initially implemented maker culture at Taupaki School. He outlines the importantance of having involvement and support from the board and teachers. Stephen explains some of the barriers schools might face and what they can do to overcome them. (Filmed September 2015)

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.


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.


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

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

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

Former principal, Stephen Lethbridge and teachers explain the development of their makerspace in 2015.

Students and teacher working in a MakerSpace

Image by Wesley Fryer

Where to put your makerspace

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.

"The best makerspace is between your ears."

Stager, 2014

The library 

The school library is often the hub of the school and easily accessible by all students. 

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.


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

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"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
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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 
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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 Osborne

Stephen Lethbridge (former principal of Taupaki School) and students explain how they solve real problems during learning. (Filmed September 2015)

Examples of learning

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

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.

Similar lesson plans are available 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. 

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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:

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.  

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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 

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Teachers at Taupaki School explain how their makerspace encourages students to collaborate. (Filmed September 2015)

More makerspace ideas

MakerED p ublications

Makerspace resources and programming ideas

Instructables: DIY guides

60+ makerspace ideas for education

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. 

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.

Starting a makerspace

Starting a makerspace

Stephen Lethbridge (former principal) and teachers explain why and how they developed a makerspace at Taupaki School. (Filmed September 2015)

3 young students looking at a computer screen

Authentic learning in a makerspace

Former Taupaki School principal, Stephen Lethbridge, and students talk about how they solved real problems in their school during their makerspace learning. (Filmed September 2015)

Inclusion and collaboration in a makerspace

Inclusion and collaboration in a makerspace

Teachers at Taupaki School explain how their makerspace facilitates student collaboration. (Filmed September 2015)

Incorporating maker culture into your school vision

Incorporating maker culture into your school vision

Former Taupaki School principal, Stephen Lethbridge explains how they implemented maker culture in their school and why it’s important to have involvement and support from the board and teachers. (Filmed September 2015)

Students with teacher.

Design thinking through creating mobile apps

Frankley School students design apps that work to solve problems in the community.

Mentor with students at laptop.

Working with a mentor from the industry

David Fox, software developer, talks about his mentoring role with Frankley School.

Mentor working with two students.

Wireframing mobile apps

Students work with an industry mentor to plan their app design at Frankley School.

Student reviewing work at whiteboard.

Computational thinking and coding through app development

Frankley School students share their enthusiasm for coding.

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Resources and readings

School guides
Makerspace screenshot

High school makerspace tools and materials
A comprehensive guide for schools and teachers looking to establish makerspaces in this US publication from Make Magazine. Prices of tools and equipment are in American dollars.

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


Information on tools, projects ideas, and research on makerspaces. MakerED is a non-profit organisation devoted to making and youth empowerment. 

Related Enabling e-Learning pages

Makers Org NZ   

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

Makerspace New Zealand   

Makerspace technology recommendations for businesses and classrooms.  

Community hubs beyond New Zealand:


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

Makerspace screenshot

High school makerspace tools and materials

A comprehensive guide for schools and teachers looking to establish makerspaces in this US publication from Make Magazine. Prices of tools and equipment are in US dollars.

Getting started with Arduino

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

Rasberry Pi in education (weblinks and resources)

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.  


Web site specialising in user-created do-it-yourself projects. A 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 outlines why maker culture is one of the 10 trends in education.

Makerspaces in the school library environment

The benefits of setting up a makerspace in your school library, a publication by Megan Daley and Jackie Child. 

Everything you need to know about makerspaces

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

Gary Stager’s Full ASCD Interview About Making

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

The pedagogical benefits of makerspaces are discussed in this Harvard Graduate School of Education research.

A makerspace where learners love to learn in Aotearoa by Rob Stevenson and Bethan Kohunui (CORE Education Dr Vince Ham eFellows 2018)

Report outlining how two teachers set up a Makerspace and developed an action research project with the support of the CORE Education eFellowship.