What do Great Makerspaces Have in Common?

Since creating my makerspace and more recently, since publishing my book on makerspaces, I have had the honor of having conversations with, as well as working with, people all across the world.  One of the most important lessons I have learned is that….

No two school makerspaces should ever be exactly alike, because no two school communities are ever exactly alike.

Through my makerspace work, I have also had the opportunity to see first-hand the qualities that great makerspaces share. Makerspaces should be unique and meaningful to the wants, needs, interests of the individual schools that they are in. Recently, Travis Lape and I had the privilege of speaking on our BAM Radio Network Movers & Makers show, with Chief Maker Educator, at MakerEd.orgSteve Davee.  As a part of that conversation, we began to explore the big question…

What do great makerspaces have in common?

In his segment, Steve explained that all great makerspaces are places where children can come in and feel comfortable and challenged, all at the same time…creating an optimal learning state. He went on to explain that great makerspaces are high challenge, low risk spaces that provide opportunities for children to play, experiment, and to be themselves, without feeling threatened.  He went on to explain that fundamentally, great makerspaces are welcoming and inviting, provide new opportunities, and they they make children feel it is their place to discover new things, share, play and learn.

As a result of our conversation with Steve, I turned to my PLN to continue to break down and examine the big question…

What do great makerspaces have in common?

As usual, my PLN did not disappoint.  What resulted is a powerful, crowdsourced document that includes over 40 measures that are central to creating a great makerspace.  

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Given the personalization that makerspaces should have, some of these ideas might resonate more strongly than others.  All makerspaces have the capacity to be great. I hope this post will fuel the conversation within the educational community about what constitutes a great makerspace and how we can best shape our spaces to create a unique learning environment that our students need, want, deserve and value. Please contribute to our Padlet, if you haven't done so already.

Thank you, Steve Davee, for the kicking off this important discussion.  If you haven't listened yet, please tune into Steve's entire BAM Radio Network episode on our Movers & Makers radio show, Breaking Down Barriers to Learning and Making