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How to Set Up a Makerspace

There are a number of things to consider when thinking about setting up a makerspace. It can be helpful to answer the following key questions.
A collection of coloured pencils
© The University of Sheffield

There are a number of things to consider when thinking about setting up a makerspace. It can be helpful to answer the following key questions.

Considerations for Setting Up a Makerspace

1. Where?

Where should your makerspace be offered?

If you are fortunate enough to have the space, then having a dedicated room for your makerspace would be ideal.

If not, then setting up 
a table in a corner of your setting which is permanently available for making would be great. It is useful if the table could be placed near a power supply, in case you acquire equipment at a later date that needs electricity.

However, if space is short then pop-up makerspaces can be offered. In some libraries, we have used a small trolley to store equipment 
that is then placed on a table for participants to use.

Some early years settings have used large trays that can be placed on a table or floor and can contain maker resources, and others have set up ‘tinker tables’ in outdoor areas.

2. How?

How can you organise and run a makerspace?

You may wish your makerspace to enable users to undertake their own investigations, which are self-motivated.

This kind of practice is best undertaken over time, as makers can then return to their artifacts to review and refine then.

There may be opportunities to present a challenge to your users, which can shape their maker activities e.g. ‘Make a rabbit hutch that will enable the rabbit to shelter from the sun.’

The STEM Learning UK website provides further ideas for STEM challenges and competitions.

However, it may be the case that your users will only have a short time to use the space, and in that case you may wish to provide a stimulus so that the makers can learn or practice specific skills/ knowledge.

Makerspace Activities

In the pop-up makerspaces we ran in MakEY, some simple yet appealing activities were offered for young learners. These starter activities included:

  • E-textiles
  • Drawbots
  • Lightshows
  • Squishy circuits
  • Light-up drawings

Detailed guidance on these activities can be found on the MakEY website.

In some makerspaces, a mixture of approaches is taken in that makers can pursue their own projects and respond to a stimulus or provocation.

3. What?

What resources do we need?

It is useful to collect
 material that can be recycled in makerspaces, such as cardboard boxes, cartons, bottles and so on.

You may be fortunate enough to be located near to a scrap store centre, which will always have materials that are of value in makerspaces. It is worth identifying if there are local businesses that might be willing to pass on material that they no longer need, but which would be 
of value in a makerspace.

If you are interested in offering some of the activities outlined above,
 then full details of the resources needed for these are included in the handouts on the MakEY website.

There are some general resources which are always useful to have at hand in a makerspace. We have created a list here

Raspberry Pi: Build a Makerspace for Young People

The Raspberry Pi Foundation provides detailed guidance on setting up and running a makerspace in their online course. If you want to review this more detailed guidance, which considers issues such as health and safety assessments, and training staff, then we recommend that you sign up for their course too.

© The University of Sheffield
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