The Making Spaces program is a research practice partnership led by Maker Ed and The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (CMP) that aims to build sustainable and meaningful integration of maker education in learning environments, such as schools, museums, and libraries across the country. The Making Spaces program connects schools and educational institutions with the support they need at a local and national level to build field-wide capacity with a focus on long-term systemic shifts in teaching and learning.
Making Spaces employs a regional hub model, where multiple schools in the same area partner with a nearby Regional Hub (such as a museum, library, school district, or community organization). These Hubs provide schools with support through professional development and community-building to spark and sustain maker-centered learning experiences, both in-school and out-of-school-time.
At the national level, Maker Ed and CMP provide resources and professional training, and cultivate a growing network of support that Regional Hubs and schools use as a foundation for planning and implementation. The result is sustained integration of making into schools and educational spaces across the country.
Making Spaces has three main areas of impact: Culture & Community Building, Pedagogy & Practice, and Sustainability & Growth.
Culture & Community Building
Critical to this work is developing a culture of maker-centered learning and building a community among Hubs and School Sites. Our efforts focus on: defining values, building a shared language, and creating a vision for maker centered learning. Hubs and Sites also identify community stakeholders (e.g. school administrators, parents, community leaders, youth) and work to include them in this process. This process allows organizations and educators to come together and develop shared understanding and ownership of their work. At both regional and national levels, networks of individuals and organizations connect, share, and use one another as resources to promote and sustain aligned efforts around maker-centered learning.
“The monthly calls we’ve been doing have been really motivating to keep on track … keep moving forward, but also just getting ideas and inspiration, knowing you’re not alone in this, even if you’re the only person at your [organization] working on it … having that opportunity to [connect with others in this work] is a huge blessing. HUGE. It’s rare that you have that kind of support.”
“We have so many [school] districts, but even though they’re right next to each other … they don’t talk normally. … [Through engagement with Making Spaces] they learned from each other and shared ideas and I don’t think they would have done that AT ALL without this program.”
“Everybody loves the visioning tool. Our teachers came back saying, oh wow, you know? We had different ideas, and when we talked to other people in our school, they had a completely different idea, so it’s really good to … be on the same page.”
Two examples of school visions:
“Our Makerspace at [school] honors the belief that creative play and exploration are foundational skills to develop STEM habits of mind and ensures that all students have equal access and opportunity to experience independent design thinking.”
“[Our] High School in partnership with our parents and community engages and motivates students to develop 21st century skills, while producing responsible citizens who are prepared for future success.”
Pedagogy & Practice
Starting with their shared vision, values, and language, educators create opportunities for youth to engage in maker-centered learning. Through monthly meetings and ongoing support, Hubs and Sites deepen their approach to integrating maker-centered learning and assessing that learning. This includes sequencing activities that build understanding over time, connecting to school standards, and assessing content as well as mindset goals.
“[One] big thing that we found out in Making Spaces, is how much our schools need tools to talk about the learning that’s happening in their spaces. … We gave them an assessment tool. [We are continuing to develop this assessment tool with university students] So not only are we providing this tool for educators, we’re also building the next generation of educators who are graduating from college and letting them think about education in another way.”
“[One school is] using their space to break a single project into units for every grade level. [The teachers took] a single tool demo we gave (science journal) and split it into dozens of micro lessons to fit their individual classroom needs (measurement, sound, storytelling, etc).”
Sustainability & Growth
Over time and through the levels of networked support, Hubs and Sites build capacity to sustain, grow and deepen the impact of their maker-centered learning work. This is done through resource development and sharing, through the establishment of new structures, routines and strategies for collaboration, as well as through strengthened relationships and new pathways for involvement among community stakeholders.
“We’ve had phenomenal growth. We’ve expanded our middle school programs…. more kids will be able to show off more of their projects. And, every time we have that opportunity, you just see the enthusiasm. Parents look at their own children differently. Teachers look at their students differently. When you have that different setting and you let the kids shine, it just reverberates through the community so deeply. … Being a part of Making Spaces, we’ve just been able to feel the impact in our region. We’re getting schools coming from long distances to be a part of these programs and be a part of this movement.”
“Each school selects a core team of 5 to 8 people from their school that has to include at least one administrator and one teacher. You have buy-in from both ends. … We know that going through this process of implementing maker education into your school is a transformative thing. And, in order for that to be sustainable and to be high quality, you need to have all levels buying in and supporting this transformation.”
“[One school] continues to integrate making into the whole school with their Maker Days throughout the year. Last year, making only occurred the library and now it occurs throughout the school.”