In high school, I traveled down to Kansas City with my family to visit the Maker Faire. It was awesome. For my final project for my Library Information Management minor, I compiled a bibliography of resources about makerspaces.
It’s no surprise, then, that when I saw the Maker Movement as one of the learning approaches, I decided to showcase it and see if I could learn and find more resources about it; it has been, after all, about two years since I compiled that bibliography, and longer still since I was a high school student.
What is the Maker Movement?
Dale Grover of Maker Works in Ann Arbor describes makerspaces as “tools + support + community.” In makerspaces, people share tools, skills, and ideas, and often work together on projects. In these spaces, learning is hands-on, collaborative, and often crosses traditional divisions such as age or level of formal education. Instead, makerspaces focus on bringing together people to explore and create around projects that interest and excite them.
Makerspaces are a part of maker culture, which focuses on DIY projects and values creation over consumption. Other terms used for makerspaces include hackerspaces, hacklabs, or fab labs. A maker is anyone who participates in maker culture.
The statement of “learning is hands-on, collaborative, and often crosses traditional divisions such as age or level of formal education” is the heart of the Maker Movement, especially when paired with “projects that interest and excite [people].”
The benefits of such an approach are obvious: it allows students to explore, to utilize their creativity, and makerspaces are often largely self-motivated. Makerspaces are also beneficial because, as MakerBridge explains, “a maker is anyone who participates in maker culture” [emphasis mine]. One comment I’ve heard throughout the course of my life — from art to writing to technology to crafting — is “Oh, I could never do that.” But the beauty and the accessibility of makerspaces has the potential to show people that they can.
Tim Bajarin explains the importance of makerspaces — and the maker movement — in his article for Time magazine. He quotes Zach Kaplan, who says that makerspaces have
the potential of giving anyone the tools they need to become makers and move them from passive users to active creators.
Diana Rendina (@) is one educator who utilizes makerspaces in her middle school library. Her blog, Renovated Learning, chronicles both the construction of the makerspace throughout the years and also offers resources, tools, and advice about constructing a makerspace of one’s own.
This TED Talk showcases what a non-classroom makerspace can look like, and the importance of community-based learning:
Making a makerspace can be challenging — they often require time to set up, financial resources, and they also require staff members to be trained on the use of the equipment and safety guidelines.
But in the end, the opportunity for all people to be creators is well worth that cost.