With a Maker Space, you leave behind the theoretical or strictly digital and delve into a tactile hands-on project based learning environment. A physical learning environment is constructed to provide an array of project based learning activities that often require collaboration, critical thinking, and real world problem solving. We are starting to see maker spaces being implemented in science, technology, engineering, and math classes (STEM), but they are often interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts. As an emerging technology they are exciting because their implementation is still in its infancy stages and the results are positive as students enjoy the freedom and collaboration this style of learning offers. Also it is catching on because we are equipping students with skills and experiences that will translate into their future careers.
Maker spaces have evolved from a concept called hacker spaces and this pedagogy relies on the simple concept of creating creative people. One of the premises of maker spaces is the idea that you have a group of people in a single space working on projects. Maker spaces function as a mecca of peer learning and knowledge sharing. Although formal and scheduled presentations on particular topics can occur, much of the learning is spontaneous and student driven. Many of these maker spaces are being constructed in computer labs and even libraries. “The maker movement in libraries is about teaching our patrons to think for themselves, to think creatively, and to look for do-it-yourself solutions before running off to the store. In short, a makerspace is a place where people come together to create with technology” (Bagley, 2012).
Schools who have embraced the maker space concepts are finding tremendous success, especially for those who don’t thrive under traditional classroom learning. As educators we often spend much of our time lecturing, reading, and on occasion discussing information with our students. The theory behind maker spaces flips that education model on its head. Maker spaces are zones of self-directed learning. “Their hands-on character, coupled with the tools and raw materials that support invention, provide the ultimate workshop for the tinkerer and the perfect educational space for individuals who learn best by doing” (“7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces”). Students learn best by creating, demonstrating, practicing and ultimately teaching others. No wonder when we ask students to sit in a lecture all day, they struggle paying attention (Martin, 2010).
Students will benefit from this pedagogy because this type of collaborative learning focuses on them contributing to the learning of others. Having students teach others and discuss concepts with others will allow them to retain much more information. “Makerspaces allow students to take control of their own learning as they take ownership of projects they have not just designed but defined. At the same time, students often appreciate the hands-on use of emerging technologies and a comfortable acquaintance with the kind of experimentation that leads to a completed project” (“7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces”). In 2010, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology reported to the President the need to create a strong foundation in our schools in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Maker spaces are a natural fit in bringing about improvements in these fields as students grow together through discovery.
Humans have a strong drive to create. If you really want to inspire students to learn you will provide them the freedom to create, collaborate, and problem solve. Aristotle said whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it; men come to be builders, for instance by building, and harp players by playing the harp”. Aristotle knew thousands of years ago what we are just rediscovering in our education practices today. By providing our students with real-life experiences in school today, we are equipping them to be successful for the rest of their lives.
Bagley, C. (2012, December 20). What is a Makerspace? Creativity in the Library. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from
Cooper, J. (2013, September 13). Designing a School Makerspace. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/designing-a-school-makerspace-jennifer-cooper
Martin, Jonathan. (2010, September 1). In Schools of the Future, Students Learn Best by Doing, Vigorously and Digitally. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/748
7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces. (2013, April 1). Retrieved June 8, 2015, from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7095.pdf