…about maker education

The maker movement in the USA has put considerable emphasis in recent years on education. It seems to us that there may well be useful lessons to learn from this both in relation to D&T education specifically and about pedagogies that could have implications for the wider curriculum.

On this page we’ll maintain a list of useful stuff that relates to maker education. One thing is worth emphasising at the start; at the moment the vast majority of the discourse about maker education is emanating from the USA and inevitably contains some materials that relate to specific contexts of educational policy and practice not immediately relevant to the UK context. However these elements are generally, at worst, a minor distraction from the wider pedagogical interest.

D&T PracticeTo start with a UK perspective, The Maker Movement and Design & Technology is an article by Torben published in the D&T Association‘s D&T Practice (2:2015). Members of the D&TA probably have a subscription to D&T Practice (also available to non-members), for others the link above provides access to just the article.


The Maker Education InitiativeMaker Ed icon website provides support for those who wish to develop maker education projects, such as makerspaces in schools. Although US-based, the (free) resources it provides are certainly of use to UK educators interested in this area. They include…

MakerSpace playbook schools iconThe Makerspace Playbook; School Edition is one of the resources from the The Maker Education Initiative.  It provides thorough guidance for those wishing to set up a makerspace in a school.



The Maker Club PlaybookMaker Club Playbook is similar to the resource above, but aimed at those working with young people outside school settings; it is one of a range of resources from Young Makers.



FabFab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop – From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication by Neil Gershenfeld and published in 2005 by Basic Books. MIT professor Gershenfeld directs the Centre for Bits and Atoms. He describes how he started to run a course, ‘How to make (almost) anything‘, based on personal fabrication tools, that proved to be immensely popular with students from a wide range of disciplines and that led to the development of Fablabs across the world. Along the way he explores how to manage a large group of students working on individual projects and introduces (well, it was new to me…) the idea of ‘Just in Time’ learning – contrasting it with the more usual engineering education model of ‘Just in Case’ learning.

Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the ClassroomInvent to learn icon by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, published in 2013 by Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. This book covers wide territory, from setting making in a clear educational historic context that is broadly constructivist through exploring how learning happens to reflections on project selection, the design of learning spaces to support making and classroom management. There is practical advice on the resources required for a maker classroom and where to find them and advice on making the case for maker education to the groups (teachers, parents, management….) that a teacher may need to convince. ‘Invent to Learn’ appears to be turning into a bit of a franchise, in the form of the following two resources.

3D in classroom iconThe Invent To Learn Guide to 3D Printing in the Classroom: Recipes for Success by David Thornburg, Norma Thornburg and Sara Armstrong, published in 2014 by Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. This has some introductory chapters on the basics of how a (FDM) printer works, how to create 3D designs for printing (using a range of free software) and brief reflections on the cross-curricula opportunities for 3D printing. But the main meat of the book is 18 ‘walk-through’ projects that showcase a range of projects set across the STEM subjects. It ends with  longer list of possible further projects. An objection to a book of projects might be that it could kill creativity and lead to students following identical projects in step. This is not the intention of the authors, rather the walk-throughs serve to introduce a range of skills and to help beginners get started.

The Invent to Learn Guide to FunGuide to fun icon by Josh Burker and Sylvia Martinez, published in 2015 by Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. This book of project ideas will be released in June 2015.



Design make play icon

Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators by Margaret Honey and David E. Kanter (Eds), published in 2013 by Routledge.This collection is in two parts; the first providing an overview of the maker movement and its relationship to the US Standards for science education, the second being a collection of case studies ranging from portrayals of tinkering/making approaches in museums and schools to descriptions of particular playful technologies (squishy circuits) and  an exploration of how to design learning experiences for ‘tinkerability’. There is (to UK eyes) an over-emphasis on the relationship of making and tinkering to Science rather than STEM more widely, but that reflects the current priorities in US education; The applicability of the underlying approaches of making and tinkering to STEM more broadly is clear enough.

worlds of making iconWorlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School by Laura Fleming, published in 2015 by Corwin. This is a slim (65 page) volume that describes what a makerspace is, why a school should establish one, how to go about  creating both a makerspace in a school and a maker culture that supports its use and how to make the most of the space’s potential to support learning.


makerspace workbench iconThe Makerspace Workbench: Tools, Technologies, and Techniques for Making by Adam Kemp, published in 2013 by Maker Media. Although not obvious from the title this book has a central focus on the development of school-based makerspaces (though it is equally relevant to those setting up a makerspace in any location). This is a book of detailed advice on selecting and setting up a makerspace including recommendations on location and design of the space and comprehensive descriptions of the range of hand, machine and digital tools that are required. Thorough advice on getting started with electronics, 2D design (and laser cutters) and 3D design (with 3D printing) is provided. The book finishes with an outline  of how learning in a makerspace should take place, illustrated with descriptions of 15 ‘Labs’ located across the STEM subjects and Art (STEAM) at both primary and secondary levels. These Labs are summaries of practical activities that promote tinkering and making and are sufficiently detailed to support someone relatively inexperienced in carrying them out.

Tinkering iconTinkering: Kids Learn by Making Stuff by Curt Gabrielson, published in 2013 by Maker Media. This is a comprehensive description of tinkering as a pedagogic approach that interleaves chapters on tinkering in specific areas (magnetism, chemistry, biology, engineering…) with chapters about tinkering as a pedagogic approach (‘The value of tinkering in the learning process’, The learning community and differentiated learning’ and so on). The chapters on specific areas provide detailed descriptions of example activities while encouraging the reader to follow their own tinkering interests. The pedagogic chapters build to provide a clear rationale for this kind of work in schools. A really engaging read from a really engaging writer.

making makers iconMaking Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation by AnnMarie Thomas, published in 2014 by Maker Media. This book is a collection of case studies or short biographies of a wide range of people working in the maker movement, with a focus on how it was that they came to be makers. The book chapters are organised around the kinds of attributes that are often found in makers; curiosity, playfulness, persistence and so on, with a final chapter summarising how the people who surround children (families, teachers, friends, neighbours) can best support the emergence of maker attributes in them.

exploratorium iconSomething Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer And His Astonishing Exploratorium by K C Cole, published in 2009 by Chicago Press. This is rather different from the other books on this page, being a biography of the man who established the Exploratorium in San Fransisco – the world’s first hands-on science museum and home of The Tinkering Studio. Its relevance is that it provides a description of the intellectual roots of tinkering/making as a a pedagogic tool. (And it’s a great read…)



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