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Types of Makerspaces in Schools

Explore the different types of makerspaces available and how to build and run them.
Types Of Makerspaces In Schools
© University of Sheffield

It is easier than you might think to start a makerspace in school. As we have learned already, makerspaces are not a one size fits all approach and can vary in size, content and focus. This article suggests several types of makerspace depending on your requirements and existing resources.

Pop-up Makerspaces

The simplest makerspaces are pop-up spaces. These use collections of maker resources, tools and equipment that can be stored away when not in use and brought out to a convenient location at a given time. The Maker{Boxes} for children in the early years we looked at earlier are a great example of a pop-up makerspace.

Some schools repurpose a trolly to use as a pop-up makerspace. These can then be wheeled from class to class or other areas around the school to support maker activities. Removable trays can be interchanged depending on who is using the makerspace and when.

We use the Maker{Move} mobile makerspace van to create a large pop-up makerspace in schools and community spaces. Our purpose built trolleys have lift up sides that create a large work surface.

A MakerMove trolley extended

Pop-up makerspaces may be used within lessons but also lend themselves well to lunchtime and after-school activities.

Maker Corner

Some teachers can see the ongoing benefits a makerspace can bring to their class and opt to dedicate a small permanent space in their classroom to making. This allows children to incorporate making into their learning more easily while providing a dedicated space to store tools and materials.

Using containers and buckets can help to keep scrap and craft resources neat and tidy and pegboards with shadow stickers provide a clever way to store and keep track of tools.

A workdesk opened up

A take-apart table in the corner of your classroom encourages children to look closely at how things are made through reverse engineering.

Two children inspect a computer

A maker corner in your classroom could be used for whole class projects or topic work, small group work or accessed during unstructured ‘tinkering’ time where children are given the time to explore and develop their own projects.

Dedicated School Makerspace

Schools dedicated to high levels of making and with the room to do so can have a purpose-built makerspace or adapt existing common spaces to incorporate a makerspace. This is common in libraries, art, and computing rooms. As we move to more hi-tech integrated equipment and digital content, space can be freed up for making. These spaces work well as making often incorporates computing or digital elements so these can be close to hand.

A classroom filled with maker activities

A large dedicated space can house specialist equipment such as 3D printers and laser cutters. Materials and resources are often zoned into defined areas such as electronics, woodwork and ‘wet’ materials such as clay or paint.

A common feature of these spaces is providing storage for part-finished projects. This allows maker the time to develop their projects over a longer period of time.

An open classroom with activities around the sides of the room

Larger makerspaces also have clearly defined sections or areas depicting which materials and tools can be used freely and which are reserved for specific lessons or require high levels of supervision. This is done in a number of ways including colour coded zones or lockable cupboards.

As we begin to think about our own spaces, we can consider what type of makerspace would work best for us at this moment. Will this change over time? What would your dream makerspace look like?

© University of Sheffield
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Makerspaces for Creative Learning

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