Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about maker education, our mission, and why making matters.

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Introduction to Maker Education

How can Maker Ed support me?

Getting Started

Practical Application


 

Introduction to Maker Education

What is making?

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Here at Maker Ed, we define making as the act of creating. We purposely define making in a broad manner because there is not a one-size fits all approach to making or to creating spaces for making. In defining making in a broad manner, we hope to be more inclusive of the sheer diversity of human making, to honor the rich history of making throughout time, and to allow educators and communities to create spaces for making that make sense within their context and based on their overall goals.

What is “maker education”?

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Maker education is 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. By harnessing the power of making, maker education allows us to create engaging and motivating learning experiences.

Why is maker education important?

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Through maker education, youth develop new perspectives, a belief in their own abilities, and a passion for learning. Maker education can also assist educators with moving towards a more comprehensive educational approach that better reflects and incorporates the diverse, complex, and ever-changing nature of our world.

What do makerspaces look like in educational settings?

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Makerspaces exist in many forms, at all levels of complexity. It’s important to note that many makerspaces are not single, dedicated places. Our Youth Makerspace Playbook (see pg. 10), as well as the #MakerEdSpace section of our site, include some examples of what makerspaces might look like. 

Ideally, a makerspace has multiple entry points, which allow for flexibility. Educator Nichole Pinkard uses the analogy of a basketball court as a framework for how makerspaces can facilitate different levels of access:

Spaces should be flexible enough to enable youth to find a place for themselves. Using the analogy of a basketball court, she pointed out how a space could be designed to enable youth to participate in multiple ways—since, on a basketball court, participants can join in by practicing, playing, leveling up or watching from the sidelines. On the court, all of these roles are valued, and are seen as entry points for involvement in the activity. A makerspace should operate with the same principles. There are many ways to participate, all of which are valuable and contribute positively to the makerspace community.”

How many makerspaces are there? How many maker programs are out there?

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This is currently a tough question to answer with a specific number since the interest in and creation of makerspaces has increased exponentially recently. Here are a number of resources you can pursue to get a better understanding of the different kinds of makers, maker educators, and makerspaces that are thriving in the United States.

This interactive map shows the group of U.S. based individuals who responded to a survey conducted by Maker Ed and SRI International. All respondents to this survey identified themselves as maker educators. The map can be sorted in two ways, either by respondent’s work environment (school, library, museum, etc.) or setting (urban, rural, suburban).

 

For more information and statistics, also check out:

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How can Maker Ed support me?

What does Maker Ed offer?

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Maker Ed seeks to provide training, resources, and a community of support for maker educators. Educators interested in getting involved can explore the programs we currently offer, click through our online Resource Library or other free, self-paced, online professional development, or attend an event.

Who does Maker Ed work with?

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We work with a wide range of youth-serving institutions, including but not limited to: museums, libraries, schools, after-school programs, community organizations, and summer camps.

What age range do the educators you work with serve?

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Maker Ed focuses on maker education programming for youth in the K-12 demographic in the United States.

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Getting Started

What are some resources for getting started with making in my educational setting?

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We recommend starting by considering the needs of the youth in your program and building from there. Our resource library has a helpful Getting Started section. This planning sheet and this exercise about People, Purpose, & Parts are other great starting points. Read about common challenges in makerspace planning. 

If you’re looking for more hands-on help, consider taking a look at our online, self-paced professional development modules, especially the ones about Learning Approaches, or exploring this set of maker educator micro credentials.

Many free resources are available for maker educators online. Here are a few of our favorites.

How do I build educator buy-in with colleagues, with parents, with my administrator/boss?

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Here are a number of resources with ideas for building buy-in with your community: 

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Practical Application

My school can’t afford a 3D printer or laser cutter. How can we make?

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Making doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated to be engaging and effective! Consider visiting your local creative re-use center for low-cost repurposed materials and ideas for making. Donna Sangwin, a maker educator who works out of ReCreate in Roseville, CA, has some advice in this edition of Ask a Maker Educator. Here are some other ideas for low-cost maker activities: 

  • If the cost of materials is a barrier, our Youth Makerspace Playbook has ideas for how to take apart items and old electronics that will allow learners to dive into (re)making, reusing, and thinking through how systems and objects are designed.
  • In this video, Principal Melissa Becker explains how a take-home activity like a ziplock challenge can encourage parents to get involved with making.
  • Caine’s Arcade is a wonderful example of a young boy using cardboard, tape, and his imagination to create and make.
  • Visit the Imagination Foundation for challenges to make with low cost materials (we especially love their Cardboard Challenge!).

How can my school/museum/library/educational setting get funding for materials?

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Cognizant has several Making The Future grant opportunities. Outside of grants, try asking for support from organizations and clubs in your area, such as: your local PTA, Rotary or Lions Club, or brick-and-mortar businesses such as hardware, craft, and fabric stores. Crowdfunding is another way you can fundraise for a new makerspace.

Where can I find other makers?

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There are a variety of local and online maker communities available. You can join the Maker Ed Google+ community or explore #MakerED on social media. You can also explore local maker educator meetups, or learn about how to host a meetup yourself.

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