What is a Maker Space?
A place to build. A Makerspace is a center for prototyping and self-directed learning through experimentation, designing, and sharing knowledge and resources. People who come to the Makerspace (often called Makers) are taking advantage of a shared set of tools, machines, resources, and knowledge to learn, develop, and innovate in a supported community of like-minded folks. The spaces are often informal with open hours around peer-community members who share their knowledge on different methods, materials, and topics. Many Makerspaces include machining tools and equipment such as:
- 3D printer
- laser cutter
- hand tools
- wood/metal shop
- programmable circuit boards (such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi)
A place to learn. Makerspaces give students a safe environment to take risks and play with design, materials, and tools. These conditions support building creative thought through project-driven self-directed learning. Maker community members value sharing what they have made and learned in the space, institutionalizing a learn-build-share model of reciprocal teaching into the atmosphere of the space. Many universities are including Makerspaces as a compliment to traditional engineering design courses to help students develop creativity and cross-disciplinary communication skills through hands-on exploration and interaction with the Maker community. Makerspaces encourage students to learn through doing and teaching others.
Can you give me an example?
Makerspaces are popping up on campuses all over the world. In 2014, on the occasion of the first White House Maker Faire, President Obama received a joint letter where over 150 institutions committed to promoting Making and Makerspaces on their campuses. You can explore 48 different campus Makerspace exemplars thanks to MakeSchools.
The Madison community is home to the UW-Madison Morgridge Rapid Prototyping Consortium and the UW Internet of Things Lab on campus and Sector67, a non-profit collaborative hacker/makerspace located downtown.
ASEE. Envisioning the Future of the Maker Movement: Summit Report. Washington, DC. 2016
- Barrett, Thomas, et al. “A Review of University Maker Spaces.” 2015
- “ELI 7 things you should know about… Makerspaces” from Educause, 2013
- “The case for a campus Makerspace” by Audrey Waters, ELI Annual Meeting, 2013