Creating a Makerspace

Creating a Makerspace

The purpose of this Click & Go is for out-of-school time (OST) staff to learn how to plan and create a unique, meaningful, and relevant makerspace for their students. Learners will follow a 5-step process for implementing makerspaces in any OST program and with any budget, academic goals, and student population. With this Click & Go and its tools, learners will be ready to effectively design, manage, and facilitate a makerspace in the OST environment.

After completing this Click & Go, learners will be able to:
•    Plan, create and launch a makerspace for their OST education program that is grounded in research and evidence-based practices 
•    Identify makerspace themes in response to student interests and needs
•    Effectively manage and facilitate a makerspace
•    Unleash student creativity through open-ended questioning and student-centered instruction

Zip Link (91.8 MB) Select link to download the resources in this Click & Go!


Makerspace Mini-Lesson

The mini-lesson video will help you and your staff understand the research and rationale of the Maker Movement and encourage you to leverage active learning. It also explains what the Maker Movement is and its impact on education, setting the stage for the rest of the module, which is designed to guide you through the process of creating an authentic, sustainable makerspace for your program.

Planning Your Makerspace

This podcast begins by stressing the importance of your vision for your makerspace. Then, the first three steps of the makerspace planning process is described. Phase One addresses student voice in planning your makerspace, including ideas and examples of best practices for how you can gather this important information from students. Phase Two helps you evaluate the opportunities your learning centers already offer and identify gaps. Finally, this podcast concludes with an overview of Phase Three of the Makerspace planning process, where you’ll make connections to the real world through your makerspace. [Download transcript]

Finding Your Theme

This podcast provides you with best practices for developing a makerspace theme and some example themes. It guides you through the process of using data collected from the first three phases of the Makerspace Planning Process (as outlined in Podcast 1), to create your own makerspace theme. This podcast ensures that as a facilitator, you can create a unique makerspace that will be meaningful and relevant to your students and the community. [Download transcript]

Preparing Your Makerspace

In this podcast, you’ll learn how to support a makerspace on any budget with materials, supplies and resources that are connected to your makerspace vision and themes. Discover the five-point MAKER Framework, which will help you make the best choices around purchasing and gathering materials, supplies and resources. The Framework points are:

  • Promote mobility
  • Allow opportunities for open-ended exploration
  • Include knowledge of students interests, wants and needs
  • Promote empowerment & engagement
  • Ensure relevance [Download transcript]

Build a Great Makerspace

This podcast includes information about how practitioners can empower students within makerspaces, and shares strategies for supporting students throughout the design process. [Download transcript]

The Maker Movement in Education

This article provides the context for research on the maker movement and the role of making in education. LINK

How Time Gets Used in Afterschool Maker Programs

This paper gives real-world examples of how programs use makerspaces. It also addresses some potential challenges for implementation. LINK

We Are All Makers: A TED Talk by Dale Dougherty

The founder and publisher of MAKE: Magazine shares a TED Talk on the growing presence of makers across the country. He believes each of us is a maker at heart. LINK

Teaching the Design Process in Makerspaces

This blog post shares four ways to teach the design process through makerspaces. These ideas could work with small groups, afterschool clubs, or any group you bring into your makerspace. LINK

The Maker Movement: A Learning Revolution

Get an overview of the maker movement, makerspaces, and technology and how they relate to education and working with youth. LINK

Maker Ed Resources

This group aims to provide pathways for students to develop their own agency as they solve problems, collaborate, and learn. The site has a variety of project guides that can be searched by age, subject, and topic. LINK

Four Tips to Create a Virtual Makerspace

A librarian from an Iowa public school shares her experience creating a makerspace in response to remote learning and out-of-school time. She provides four tips for anyone setting up their first makerspace. LINK

Example of Apps Created by Students

This health and wellness app inspired the app discussed in the Creating a Makerspace Click & Go podcast series. LINK

Revisit the Makerspace Planning Process at least once a year. Also, make sure there’s space in your Makerspace Action Plan for reflection: Reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and continue to revisit and revise your plan. All these things will help to sustain your makerspace into the future.

It should be! While you can certainly use other spaces as inspiration, your makerspace should be unique, meaningful, and relevant to your students and program. Only you can determine what that looks like.

Don’t let that hold you back — learning along with your students is part of the fun! It also helps your students to take leadership in the space. There will likely be some days when you’re the primary facilitator, and others when you’re learning alongside someone else.

Revisit the Makerspace Planning Process at least once a year and adjust when necessary. This will ensure that your space remains fresh and relevant to the students currently in your program.

Many makerspaces are stored on carts with wheels, so they can be portable and mobile. You could have one cart that houses all the materials, resources, and supplies needed to support all your themes, or you can have a cart for each theme. Carts can even be decorated in an eye-catching and inspiring way.

It’s possible that benchmark or standardized tests will reflect some of the impact your makerspace has on student achievement. Equally important, though, are the 21st century skills a makerspace encourages. Communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and other skills positively impact student learning and help students become good citizens. Integrating strategies such as design thinking into your makerspace can increase students’ problem-solving skills, empathy, and willingness to persist when challenges arise. Other ways to measure impact include tracking attendance, conducting observations to rate student engagement, and surveying students and families about their reactions to makerspace experiences.

Show them makerspaces in action. Touring a local makerspace, if possible, will promote understanding of the impact these spaces can have on students. Attending a professional development session about makerspaces with your program director, school principal, or other leader is another effective way to get their support. You can also take a grassroots approach by creating a small makerspace on your own and testing its impact on students. After program leaders observe the impact of your pilot, they may want to provide more support to your makerspace idea.

Use the Makerspace Action Plan tool to get started. It encourages creating mission and vision statements for your space. These statements will help you make meaningful decisions as you plan and create your unique space, and will help you communicate to your students and their families what you’re trying to accomplish.

A theme in a makerspace is a way to link interdisciplinary learning opportunities to one another. Themes help you organize the learning experiences and opportunities you want your students to have in the space. Using a thematic approach to a makerspace will ensure that it fits the unique wants and needs of your school community and provides opportunities for your students to deepen their learning.

You don’t necessarily need a theme. Sometimes, though, themed learning in a makerspace helps to focus on broader ideas, inquiry, and skills, rather than just kits, items, and “the stuff.” Using a thematic approach to planning your makerspace can be beneficial in these ways:

  • Offers a personalized approach for planning the makerspace.
  • Streamlines the ordering process for materials.
  • Provides opportunities for your students to deepen learning.
  • Ensures that you provide a selection of materials to meet the various learning styles of your students.

Sometimes people who create makerspaces without themes use them with prefabricated kits or structured lesson plans. Spaces that rely on those types of approaches may be one-dimensional and often don’t support creating, tinkering, and “pure” making. A theme can help you avoid being stuck in one path, as long as you don’t let it become a limiting factor. Here’s what a theme can be:

  • A launchpad to kickstart making and creativity
  • A way to inspire students and to spark ideas
  • A guide for students who might have trouble working with no structure

Here’s what a theme is not:

  • A rule
  • A restriction
  • A ceiling