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Maker Clubs

What opportunities do people have to access and interact with makerspaces? One approach is through running a club. Libraries, as well as community groups, museums and schools, are a great place to run a makers club.
A sign saying 'makers' beneath a homemade lamp
© The University of Sheffield

What opportunities do people have to access and interact with makerspaces? One approach is through running a club. Libraries, as well as community groups, museums and schools, are a great place to run a makers club.

Types of Maker Clubs

Clubs could take the form of structured learning opportunities, or be more informal in the activities they provide. You may already be running maker clubs. A weekly Knit & Natter group is a great example of making, where people, often with years of experience, come together to share ideas and projects in an informal way.

There are lots of opportunities to host a wide range of maker clubs at your setting. You may be able to incorporate running a club into your existing role as a teacher or educator or you could ask volunteers to support clubs.

Anyone Can Start a Makers Club

Local volunteers can offer a great way for intergenerational knowledge sharing. Remember – you don’t need to be an expert maker or coder to run a club. Think of yourself as the facilitator who can learn alongside the children (who will soon be the experts!)

Maker Club Ideas:

Lego Clubs

This could be aimed at a range of ages and offer opportunities for informal play and creative model building. Alternatively, you could opt for a more structured approach through the FIRST Lego League who offer a range of themed programmes of activities and competitions for 4-16 year olds.

Coding Clubs

Most libraries are equipped with computers, making running a coding club a great idea. Programmes such as CodeClub or Coder Dojo offer you free online training, resources and ideas to help kids learn to code. Cheap Raspberry Pii and Micro:Bits are also a great way to get coding. Check out lots of free activity ideas for the Micro:bit here.

STEM or STEAM Clubs

Explore science, technology, engineering, arts and maths through a STEAM club. Make slime or have tallest tower building contests! You can find lots of inspiration on sites like Pinterest for more ideas and activities. Check out lots of support and guidance for starting a STEM club from STEM Learning UK here.

Robot Clubs

There are many types of robots available to support STEAM based learning. They can be a great way to see the physical effects of coding. Ready to go robots such as Ozobots, Sphero, Dot & Dash and robotic arms can be a good way to get started.

They are easy to set up and come with programs, apps and websites full of ideas and resources. If you want to have a go at building your own robots, check out Lego Mindstorms and Spike Prime, Vex Robotics or add-ons to the Raspberry Pi or Micro:Bit such as the Bit:Bot.

Maker Clubs & Groups

Can you open your makerspace to regular members to provide a space for them to work on their own projects?

A maker club with regular attendees will help you to build a team of specialists. Start by running regular skill builder sessions to familiarise makers with the tools, equipment and safety practices. Set aside some space for ‘in progress’ projects. You will start to develop a team of dedicated makers who will be able to support further making activities and events at your setting.

A maker club or group with a diverse range of skills and interests tends to be more inclusive and collaborative than very specialised groups such as electronics and textiles.

Holiday programmes

The holidays provide an opportunity to run extended sessions where you can spend longer on projects. A mix of structured activities or skill-building sessions and open-ended development and making slots work provide a good balance.

Funding For Maker Clubs

There are small pots of funding available that might be useful when setting up a maker club. Search for STEM club funding, STEM or STEAM funding for schools/libraries/museums to see what is available near you.

© The University of Sheffield
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Makerspaces for Creative Learning

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