Makerspace Philosophy


In a makerspace the learning happens through making, tinkering, art and engineering real things based on an individual’s interest. Students are interested in this type of learning when they have an idea to create something new (Making). Tinkering is a playful way to approach and solve problems through experimentation and discovery. Engineering builds a bridge between the intuition of tinkering and the formal aspects of science by being able to explain, measure, and predict the world around us. Art allows students’ projects to become something aesthetically pleasing. The practical skills that are developed through this process builds creative confidence in a student.  

In the book Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley, the authors state that creative confidence is a way of “experiencing the world that generates new approaches and solutions.”  The maker mindset is a growth mindset, one that encourages students to believe they can learn to do anything.  The makers movement in education helps to develop in students the full capacity, creativity and confidence to become “agents of change in their personal lives and in their community.”

Learning in a makerspace is not new. It goes back to the ideas of John Dewey who rejected the regimented schooling that arose during the industrial revolution. The iterative design process that is used in maker spaces can be found in John Dewey’s writing. He believed in a continuous spiral of education that begins with a problem that is within the capacity of a student to tackle which arouses in the student an active quest for information and new ideas. Those new ideas become the ground for further experiences in which new problems are presented. Seymour Papert is the father of the maker movement with his ideas of Constructivist learning, as outlined in his book Mindstorms and in his life’s work at MIT’s Media Lab. Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences encourages this sort of education as well, in order to create authentic learning experiences and opportunities to learn in a student’s personal style or styles. Reggio Emilia encourages the youngest toddlers to use real tools to problem solve and create projects. She argues that a child’s knowledge-building process is much too complex and involves multiple strategies that can’t be incorporated into a “lesson plan” or “curriculum” but rather requires a dynamic iterative process like a “project” to accomplish. A makerspace allows people to make real things, to take pride in their creations, and share not only the things they make, but also the process of making them with videos, instructions, and pictures.

Tinkering is a mindset for problem solving that is distinctly different from the analytical mindset that is traditionally taught didactically in school. Tinkering allows students to play with their own ideas, try different things, contemplate what to do next, trust their intuition, and learn from their mistakes. When students are deeply involved in tinkering they are practicing problem solving in a nonlinear way which mirrors all the important aspects of play for young children. It is fun, creative, purposeful, and mindful at the same time. Think. Make. Improve - the Iterative Design Process. This is the process for working in the makerspace.

Design thinking is a way to think about problems and issues; learners use the tools and strategies that are taught in design thinking to tackle real-world, engaging, student-identified challenges.  "Design Thinking is a collection of techniques and mindsets that enable people to identify underlying needs through empathy, to harness and develop their ability to generate ideas, and to actively seek feedback. By flaring and focusing, people discover a path through complex, difficult problems, which transforms them into fearless and effective Changemakers. Collaboration and a bias towards action help blast through intricate situations, particularly those areas that do not have one right answer; Design Thinking helps people jump into ambiguous challenges with energy and excitement."
- Kim Saxe, Director, Innovation Lab at Nueva School

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An Independent Day School
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516 Monument Street, Concord, MA 01742

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