The Diverse Makerspaces


By Klaus Thestrup

Again I am struck by the differences in what a makerspace might be. Here are some thoughts based on my memory.

Around the globe

In Perth in Australia at a secondary school part of the makerspace was a bike repair shop. The students collected bikes left for scrap, made them work again and gave them away for friends and family. All in a poor area. At a primary school in Melbourne a kitchen was part of the makerspace. They used recipes, prepared with spices from a small, small garden and ate food from all over the world. In Berlin it was a Fablab with laser cutters and sewing machines and students with Mac-computers, where the covers were literally covered in labels for concerts and politics. And in Bucharest in Rumania where this cool guy wanted children to use some software on how to build and launch a rocket.


And now here in Canada. At the art museum in Toronto there were an area called a makerspace using tools like scissors and colored tape to make sculptures out of re-cycled materials. The idea was to let children transform a painting into a 3D landscape. And at Brock University in St. Catharines I came across the IRC, the Instructional Research Centre, where students can borrow almost anything from beebots to big puppets to use together with children. The puppets were the surprice here placed just next to the 3-d printer. I had not seen puppets before in a setting, where the idea of a makerspace was important. You could put your hand inside them and control their movements and facial expresssions.  All of a sudden you could add narratives and fiction to the makerspace palette.


I know it is across the globe and I know a lot depended on where I was in time and space, but nevertheless, makerspaces seem to depend on context and initiative more than fixed tools and materials. What might be the potential of the makerspaces is exactly this. It can become a space and a pedagogy where anything can be part of a playful and experimenting process of examining and changing the world. The actual practice depend on who is in the makerspace, what you have got access to and where it is situated. The review on makerspaces produced in the MakEY-project show exactly the same, so here is the link for that: Have a look at page 61, where one can see a model presenting many types of makerspaces in both formal and informal and permanent and temporary settings.

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