The Research Behind Makerspace Education

Why create a makerspace in your school, library, or learning environment? The answer is simple; students like to make, and they learn more when they do! The need has never been greater for students that have critical thinking and problem solving skills. Maker education develops these employability skills, STEM skills, and self-esteem. Learning comes to life and students are reminded that learning is fun!

Research and workforce development data supports the need for makerspaces. According to the US Department of Commerce, job growth in STEM fields is expected to be 17% over the next ten years, which is much higher than the average job growth rate of 10% (2014). Who are the students that are going to fill jobs that do not yet exist? This is where technological literacy and employability skills have a role to play in making a student college and career-ready.

The Gallup Student Poll measures what matters most for students success - hope, engagement, entrepreneurial enthusiasm, and financial literacy. According the Gallup Student Report, over half of students K-12 were disengaged and feeling hopeless (2017). We believe that makerspaces engage students and restore hope by allowing students to make, explore, and connect content to what they are learning in the classroom!

The Maker Movement in Education

As makerspaces increase in popularity across the country, many educators have begun to wonder both their value and potential uses in the educational realm. Makerspaces provide a space for students to design, explore, and create using a variety of tools and materials. Are makerspaces the new “shop class”? Are they classes at all? There is no set of requirements of what must be included in a makerspace, and perhaps that is what makes them flexible enough to fit into classrooms across the United States. Focusing exclusively on educational makerspaces, standards and curriculum can be molded with a maker mindset. How teachers can use makerspaces in their classrooms will be discussed. Time will also be devoted to planning, funding, setting up a makerspace, and ultimately creating a maker culture in your school community.

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Maker-Centered Learning

The Agency by Design initiative at project Zero, a research organization at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has been investigating the promise, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning since 2012. This white paper later led to a book entitled Maker-Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape their Worlds.

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Novice Guide to 3D Printing

3D Printing, or Additive Manufacturing, is where parts grow layer by layer according to instruction derived from a 3D model of the part designed on a computer. Untangle the magic of 3D printing and understand uses in manufacturing, prototyping, and education.

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Peer-Reviewed Research


Dunbar, Cheyenne; Henry, Johanna; Isaacs, Stacy; Kubacki, Kevin; Siebert, Brittany; Underwood, Teresa; Kaufman, Jeff
Marion University, July 2016

1st Maker Space, LLC (1MS) was founded in 2015 in the hopes of fostering the Makerspace movement. Kim Brand’s self-proclaimed vision of 1MS is to create 21st century shop classes where students engage in hands-on learning activities utilizing high-end, scientific equipment such as 3D printers and laser cutters. This evaluation focuses on the early business model of 1MS (3D printing and summer camps) and the success with Arsenal Tech and Shortridge High School.

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Sheffield, Rachel; Koul, Rekha; Blackley, Susan; Maynard, Nicoleta
Educational Media International, v54 n2 p148-164 2017

"Makerspace" has been lauded as a new way forward to create communities, empower students and bring together enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels "to tinker" and create. Makerspace education has been touted as having the potential to empower young people to become agents of change in their communities. This paper examines how a "Makerspace" approach can capture the imagination and creativity of female primary school students, and engage them in integrated STEM-based projects. The study scaffolded female tertiary undergraduate students to mentor small groups of girls to complete a project in a STEM "Makerspace" situated in classrooms. The data generated and analysed from this study were used to determine how "Makerspace" STEM-based projects were enacted, how they engaged and supported the girls' learning, and considers the future of a "Makerspace" approach as a way to progress integrated STEM education.


Peterson, Lana; Scharber, Cassandra
Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, v34 n1 p43-52 2018

Makerspaces are the latest educational movement that may disrupt the "grammar of schooling." Makerspaces may change the ways schools use technology; change the ways schools engage in learning and teaching; and change the forms of learning that count in schools. However, without deliberate professional learning and planning, the glamor of new tech tools can overshadow the importance of pedagogy within makerspaces. We share our approach to makerspace professional learning in K-12 schools, which is adapted from the Frank et al. "Focus, Fiddle, and Friends" framework on knowledge diffusion within schools.


Moorefield-Lang, Heather
TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, v59 n3 p107-112 May 2015

Makerspaces and accompanying technologies are exciting new services being offered in libraries. However, these come with their own challenges and successes. Training for maker learning locations continues to be difficult to obtain. Inservice librarians rely on peers in the field and online resources for their training. Most preservice librarians are graduating each semester not knowing the skills needed to maintain and serve in makerspaces. As library services continue to change what skill sets are needed to sustain the ever-changing library environment? In this study, 12 interviews were conducted one-on-one with librarians possessing makerspace facilities in their library settings. The interviews were used to gain feedback regarding the makerspace locations in each library. Interviews were digitally audiotaped and transcribed. Results were organized into thematic codes using NVivo 10 qualitative data analysis software. Some emergent themes include librarian and patron training, makerspace implementation, staffing models, and overall reactions.

Maker Movement Resources & Links

Makerspace Planning Process and Taxonomy

Excited about makerspaces but not sure where to start? The Makerspace Planning Process and Brand Taxonomy contains resources and links to get you started on your mission of creating a makerspace and maker culture in your learning environment.

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