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What is the Maker Cycle?

The Maker Cycle is a simple way of introducing makers to fundamental design and engineering concepts and processes.
© University of Sheffield

The Maker Cycle is a simple way of introducing makers to fundamental design and engineering concepts and processes.

What is the Maker Cycle?

An important part of making is the iterative process of problem finding, coming up with innovative solutions and testing out ideas and seeing what improvement can be made. Use the Maker Cycle to create like a maker.

Makercycle circular flow diagram. Text reads: Look at a problem, think how to make it better, make your idea, test to see how it works.

Look

Look at a problem. This may be a large scale global problem such as rising sea levels, or smaller scale issues such as where to store your pencil or how to get a small plastic toy across the water without it sinking. You may not always be faced with an obvious problem, but with most things, there is always room for improvement.

Think

Think how to make it better. Talk with others, ask questions, brainstorm ideas, and start a plan. What materials and tools can you use? Do you have the skills needed or do you need to work with others who can help you?

Make

Make your idea. Use rapid prototyping to quickly make your ideas so you can test what works and what doesn’t. This can be challenging to many new makers, as they are used to spending time perfecting their ideas and designs before testing them. If their ideas fail (which most will in some way), they can become discouraged from making in the future. Use cheap materials such as cardboard and simple electronics to make simple projects ready to test.

Test

Test to see how it works. Try out your model and show it to other people. Ask for feedback and evaluate how you could make it better. You are now ready to start the process again, by looking at the new problems you have noticed, thinking how you could improve your design and making another model.

When is it finished?
The simple answer is, when you decide it is. Decide when you are happy to ‘release’ your make as a finished piece – even though there may be more improvements you could make. In reality, products are constantly evolving. Think about the mobile phone. It is a constantly evolving product, with each release “good enough”, but still room for improvements.

Maker Cycle Challenge

How will using the Maker Cycle alter the way you present making or create activities in your setting?

© University of Sheffield
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