The Makerspace Movement In Education

Makerspace Definition

To say that the educational landscape has changed over the last decade is quite an understatement. There are tools and resources available today we never could have imagined. Makerspace is one of them.

Makerspace is a creative DIY space, where students can create, invent, and learn. It’s about asking the question ‘what if?’ and then discovering the answer. It sparks their intellectual curiosity to say ‘how does this work?’, ‘why does it work?’ or ‘what else could we do?’.

The makerspace movement takes place in classrooms with open tables, surrounded by resources. Kids can use everything, from old-school Legos to new-school 3D printers to turn their ideas into reality. Some come in with an exact idea, like printing a part for a robot, other kids come in and use arts and crafts materials making a prototype.

They have all kinds of resources, such as bins of Legos or pieces of wood or even just cardboard or 3D printers.  They can make a bicycle or a spaceship or a dollhouse or a nightlight. They can take those ideas or things they’re passionate about and produce something that’s tangible. They create things that open, move, and actually function. With a 3D printer they can actually see how things that are happening in our more traditional classes come to life.

Changing The Landscape Of Education

Makerspace education is really applying math, applying science, applying concepts like Newton’s laws to a real-life situation and it’s all part of the changing landscape in education.

This is a new way of looking at things for our future generations. Before, the teacher was the instructor and gave the students instructions; now, the teacher is more a facilitator or a director of the space. So, not only does his title of teacher stray from the typical definition, so does the role of his students, who sometimes know more about the technology than the adults. Together they are able to problem-solve, and once they do, the results are incredible.

Kids have a chance to design things, learn how to code, use microcontrollers, and above all they learn a very valuable lesson. The most impressive thing is when kids have an idea and they build it or they try to design it and it doesn’t work the first time: this is the most tangible way to see what it means to fail safely.


The Core Principles Of Makerspace Education

At its simplest, making is the act of creating using creativity, curiosity, collaboration, and confidence. Consider what can happen when making becomes an integral part of learning.

Maker education harnesses the power of making to create an engaging and motivating learning experience. It’s an interactive open-ended approach that is learner driven and allows for the time and space needed to develop diverse skills, knowledge, and ways of thinking.

The design of any learning opportunity must recognize and celebrate every learner’s ability to experience and influence their world. Maker education can achieve this ideal, because it embodies these core values and goals:

  • Empowerment. Maker education focuses on the learner’s capability to voice their unique thoughts, choices, and ideas.
  • Access. It provides a spectrum of entry points for learners of any culture, background or ability to take part.
  • Process. Maker education emphasizes designing, reiterating, reflecting, and sharing as part of the universal process of learning and development.
  • Community. It welcomes and values every learner, as they are encouraged to share, collaborate, and engage with one another.

Maker education allows us to move towards a more comprehensive educational approach that better reflects and incorporates the diverse, complex, and ever-changing nature of our world. Through makerspace education, youth develop new perspectives, a belief in their own abilities, and a passion for learning.

Towards Makerspace Learning

Makerspaces are self-directed learning environments. Students develop their independence because they are given free will and the ability to build how they choose assignments and challenges. Students can make mistakes without being marked incorrect. Even better is the fact that makerspace problem-solving activities are meant to simulate real-life situations.

Makerspaces allow for students to hone their creativity; it’s an open space where children can bring their imaginations into real life. Just watch the excitement in your students’ faces as they find the knowledge themselves. With makerspace assignments students are going to learn and acquire knowledge during the process of creating their assignments. Teachers always have the option of making the assignment a collaborative effort, since makerspaces are great for collaborative learning.

Our New Makerspace: STEM And STEAM In An Elementary Classroom

How To Get Started With Makerspaces

Here is a five-step plan:

  1. Create a supply list to budget for the makerspace. Reach out to other schools with makerspaces to get an idea of what they are using and what the prices are.
  2. After the budget lists, you’re going to have to find ways to pay for these supplies. Makerspaces are expensive and schools might not be willing to pay for everything. One idea is to reach out to local businesses in the community.
  3. You’re going to have to assess your school to find an appropriate space. Take a school-wide survey and get everyone’s opinion and get everyone involved in the maker movement to find that space.
  4. Once the makerspace is finished and available to students, start with a school-wide design. This competition is a form of gamification; it’ll engage students in a fun and open manner.
  5. Incorporate makerspaces into classroom curriculum. Project-based and inquiry-based learning assignments utilize makerspaces into various courses.

So, where are we going to create these makerspaces if space is limited? Teachers can portion off a part of the classroom and use it for a makerspace. Some schools have used part of the library for a makerspace. There are also digital makerspaces, where students collaborate in open spaces online. Other schools have used trailers and old school buses.

Finally, the tools for makerspaces. Some typical examples of makerspace tools include 3D printers, metal works, laser cutters, electronics, computers, CNC cutters, textiles, basic supplies, and much more. Ultimately, you want to see students coming in and out of the makerspace excited about their projects, working together, figuring things out for themselves, doing schoolwork, and working on their own personal projects.

That is why the makerspace movement is becoming so popular. Preparing all kids for life beyond school is not an endpoint; we’re preparing kids for a world that we can hardly imagine.

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Valentina is a Primary School teacher in Miami, Florida. She is an advocate for literacy and hands-on teaching. She enjoys creating arts & crafts projects with her students, setting up theatrical plays, and utilising innovative teaching resources.


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