01 - Making and Informal Education Resource Guide - Summary
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Making and Informal Education Resource Guide - Summary Page
Last updated: June 1, 2014
Since I began working on developing maker spaces and programs for my institution - the Children's Museum of Houston - I've done and attended many presentations, workshops, and online vehicles like webinars on developing maker-related programming and spaces in informal scinece (and other) educational insititutions, most commonly science centers and children's museums. One of the biggest issues I've encounters is preconceived notions of what it takes to have a "maker space" (ex. "Do we need to have a laser cutter to be a maker space?").

In visiting with colleagues and other maker spaces, I've come to realize that the idea of a "one size fits all" definition of a maker space simply doesn't work for informal settings. The diversity of physical space, facilitators, institutional expertise, budget, mission, and audience demographics makes it nearly impossible. As such, I tend to prefer to show off a diversity of spaces that work as well as ideas for programs that can be adapted for use in a variety of settings and research that can help guide both the creation AND the evolution of maker spaces in informal setings (since, to me, a static, stagnant maker space environment is the antithesis of a true maker space experience).

I think the most important thing to keep in mind, whether you use the term engineering, tinkering, making, etc., is to provide a creative outlet for kids' (and adults') exploration. Sometimes we are at our most creative when we are forced to work inside constraints. I’m often reminded of Apollo 13 where engineers were forced to think creatively given limited supplies and tools to save lives. And, to borrow from the fictional world, there is one of my favorite TV shows - "MacGyver." While many of his creations would never work without a special effects crew, the idea of “MacGyvering” - working with limited supplies to create fantastic things - is hardwired into the maker mindset. So, I encourage those looking to develop a space and stressing over what they can't do to work with what you have, don’t stress over what you don’t, and encourage visitors to think creatively with what is present.

The following table is a list of resources that may be valuable to informal education centers looking to create and evolve their own making/tinkering/engineering program and/or space. The table is list of resources that I’ve divided into five categories, based on the five most common types of questions I get from other institutions looking to create their own maker space: maker space/programming examples (EX), logistical information (LI), programming ideas (PI), training (TR), and research/evaluation(RE) on making in informal educational settings (definitions for the categories are located at the bottom of the chart). Please note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all existing resources, but rather a selection of resources that I’ve found were helpful for me in my work related to children’s museums and science centers. For each resource, I’ve also included my own reasoning for including it. I'll hopefully be continuing to add to the list, but please feel free to add your own suggestions. I hope they are helpful.
Playful Invention and Exploration (PIE) Networkhttp://www.pienetwork.org/The PIE Network/Institute run out the Exploratorium and funded by an NSF grant. One of the first resources for establishing making programs and exhibits in science centers and children's museums.xxThe PIE network was my real introduction into doing making activities before MAKE magazine had even really been established. It was a natural extension of my own thinking when it comes to teaching - provide families the opportunities to do open-ended explorations that are facilitated by knowledgeable people who act as resources and cheerleaders instead of providing all the answers. Let them make mistakes and follow the trails wherever it leads them. Many of the activites I did with PIE I adapted for use in our institution.
Children's Museum of Houston - Invention Convention and Inventors' Workshophttp://www.cmhouston.org/invention-convention/The making and tinkering exhibit at the Children's Museum of HoustonxThe first making and tinkering exhibit that I helped develop for the Children's Museum of Houston. It has grown and evolved over the years as other educators have taken it over, but it still has a very special place in my heart. Also here is a webinar we recently conducted for the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) that realted to all of the making and tinkering work we do at CMH, including the exhibit space as well as outreach work.
http://vimeo.com/93524398A webinar of the making work we do at the Children's Museum of Houstonxxxxx
http://community.astc.org/blogs/mary-mathias/2014/05/27/making-tinkering-cmh-questionsPost-webinar Q&Axxx
Girls’ Participation in Design Challenges Engineering Activitieshttps://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PMlMzbmQ0a3NOZ2c/editEvaluation report created by the Museum of Science in Boston about how girls have participated inthe Design Challenges Engineering ActivitiesxA great summary of how the Musuem of Science ion Boston found that girls participated in the engineering design process, very useful when considering developing similar activities. I've also included a link to their website that describes their Design Challenges work.
https://vimeo.com/89033189Recording of a webinar conducted on this topicx
http://community.astc.org/blogs/mary-mathias/2014/04/02/making-tinkering-spaces-in-museums-hangout-girls-in-making-questionsPost-webinar Q&Ax
http://legacy.mos.org/designchallenges/A link to the Museum of Scinece's Design Challenges Workxx
Make It Work Zinehttps://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PNE5QbVYxaGlLSUE/editA summary of several informal science education centers makers spaces (far from fully inclusive) created for the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) 2013 conferencexA good summary of some of the variety of maker spaces currently running around the nation in science centers and children's museums. Far from complete (didn't include my institution), but a good start. I reference them in other places in the document, too.
Ingenuity Lab at the Lawrence Hall of Sciencehttp://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/visit/exhibits/design_build_test/design_quest/ingenuity_labLink to the Ingenuity Lab maker space websitexxOne of the many great maker spaces in science centers. In LHS's case, they tend to focus very heavily on engineering design as a part of the making process.
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PX0lpXzU4bHJ4VVE/editLink to a presentation they did for a webinarxx
http://community.astc.org/blogs/monika-mayer/2013/11/06/making-tinkering-photosLink to other photos of their workx
The Tinkering Studio at the Exploratoriumhttp://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/Link to their main websitexxxOne of my favorite maker spaces and the evolution of the Playful Invention and Exploration (PIE) network. They do tremendous amounts of work exploring tinkering and making in informal educational settings all around the world. A hugely useful resource run by truly exceptional people. I've tied in several other resources that they've created and going through their blog, while time consuming, is wonderful. Finally, they just put out a book "Art of Tinkering" for which I've included a link to the site.
http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/blogLink to their blog "Sketchpad"xx
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PVmh5UEhkeHRnams/editDocument relating to their facilitation aspirationsx
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PdmpQdnRaNlVWTnM/editMaking it work slideshow from workshop presentation they conducted
http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/art-tinkeringArt of Tinkering - bookx
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PNzBBWUpSejNLYlU/editTinkering Studio safety plan (note: draft version)x
http://vimeo.com/42167582Open MAKE Tools event video filmed at Tinkering Studioxx
Making Maker Spaces presentationhttps://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PdTQtS05pVmlaTVU/editA presentation I organized for the 2013 Association of Children's Museums InterActivity ConferencexxxxThese are two presentations I put together for the Association of Children's Museums InterActivity Conference. Both of these sessions were highly attended by many people looking for opportunities to create their own spaces, often struggling with the definition of a "maker space." The thing I like about both of them is how diverse our group was for each one - how we each approached Making and Tinkering in our related institutions differently, but still very successfully. Far too often, people get stuck on a definition in their mind for what a "successful" maker space HAS to look/be like. But, in reality, they can come in many different shapes and forms.
Let's Make Something!https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7Pc0JrLVdFSDRYT0k/editA presentation I organized for the 2014 Association of Children's Museums InterActivity Conferencexxxxx
The Making of Making and Tinkering Spaces Hangout Webinarhttp://vimeo.com/84342871A presentation for the Association of Science and Technology Centers introducing several differnet maker spaces.xOne of the first ASTC "Making and Tinkering Community of Practice Webinars that are conducted on a very regular basis. This one quickly introduces several different maker spaces in several differnet informal settings and how they came into being.
Making with Younger Children Hangout Webinarhttp://vimeo.com/81628794A presentation for the Association of Science and Technology Centers about making with younger childrenxxxA good description from several institutions about how they do making with a younger audience
Gadgets Cafe - Center of Science and Industry (COSI)http://cosi.org/cosi-blog/item/design-based-learningBlog about their design-based learningxxCOSI (Center of Science and Industry) has a maker space in the Gadgets exhibit called Gadets Cafe. They have also been exploring design-based learning, which is an intruiging process which you can see in this blog and videos.
http://vimeo.com/87104368COSI - Desing based learning videoxxx
http://vimeo.com/87810789Webinar about COSI's design-based learning in the Gadgets Cafe
Design Lab - New York Hall of Science (NYSCI)http://nysci.org/projects-main/designlab-main/Design Lab's main sitexxOpening June 7th, but with programming that has been in development for years, the Design Lab is one of the newest maker spaces being created. They have also done quite a bit of research in making with younger children.
http://designlabnysci.wordpress.com/Design Lab's blogxxxx
http://www.situstudio.com/blog/category/design-lab/Blog posting from the fabricators of the Design Lab
http://vimeo.com/91731601Webinar about the Design Labxx
http://community.astc.org/blogs/mary-mathias/2014/04/11/making-tinkering-nysci-questionsPost-webinar Q&Axx
Open Studio - TELUS Sparkhttp://www.sparkscience.ca/explore/open-studio/Open Studio main sitexWhile I've unfortunately not been able to visit TELUS Spark's open Studio (yet!), I do know several of the people involved in their work. I've attached here a link to their site and a webinar they did with the Association of Science and Technology Centers that helps you understand their space. I find their "Visitor Creations Showcase" very interesting.
http://vimeo.com/90254185Webinar about the Open Studio
MakerSpace @ The Tech - The Tech Museum of Innovationhttp://www.thetech.org/partnership-programs-tech/makerspace-techMain site for the MakerSpace @ The TechxxxPart of the Maker Corps from the Maker Education Initiative, The Tech had several college students work with their visitors to do making experiences in their Museum. This is a summary of that work Summer 2013.
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PMVBaVDNxRlFRNXM/editA "Cookbook" by the Tech about their 2013 work with Maker Corps and their Maker SpacexxxxxA very comprehensive guide of The Tech's work done over the summer of 2013. Lots of great resources inside of it.
MakeShop - Children's Museum of Pittsburghhttp://makeshoppgh.com/The MakeShop's main page.xxxxxThe MakeShop at Children's Museum of Pittsburgh is a very powerful space to visit, as it has the equipment of what many think of as a Maker Space - power tools, laser cutter, 3D printer, etc. plus 4 full-time facilitators dedicated to running the space. They are doing quite a bit of great work with kids and recently received an IMLS grant to research making in informal spaces.
Maker Education Initiativehttp://makered.org/Main site for the Maker Education InitiativexxxxxThe Maker Education Initiative is an offshoot from Dale Dougherty of MAKE Magazine to create a national drive to engage kids in making and tinkering. Their best-known work is the Maker Corps, but they have lots of great resources on their website as well as their Google+ group.
Innovators' Workshop - The Thinkeryhttp://thinkeryaustin.org/exhibits/innovators-workshop/Main site for the Thinkery's Innovators's WorkshopxThe Thinkery in Austin, TX (formerly the Austin Children's Museum) just opened a brand-new facility in which they have the Innovators' Workshop. This is still an evolving exhibit, but it is yet another example of the diversity of maker spaces and how they can exist in a vareity of different settings.
Association of Science and Technology Centers Making and Tinkering Community of Practicehttp://community.astc.org/communities/viewcommunities/groupdetails/?CommunityKey=e29fecb4-5a52-4d5b-b9a6-00643222ffdeMain page - NOTE that I beleive you'll need to join the Communities of Practice site to view the contentxxxxxThe Association of Scinece and Technology Centers began creating these Communities of Practice to help groups of people doing similar work to communicate and discuss items that relate to them. The Making and Tinkering is one of the largest ones on the website and is a vast resource of Q&A, shared documents, links to videos, etc.
Design Make Playhttp://dmp.nysci.org/A book edited by the New York Hall of Science containing several articles from leading thinkers in making and tinkeringxxThis website relates to work done by NYSCI (New York Hall of Science) related to making and tinkering, pulling together thinkers from across the nation. They recently released a book by the same title (link to it on the website), which is a very enjoyable read. Lots of great thinking about the impact that tinkering and making have on our society and children's learning. Best part for me is that it is a series of articles, so you can read them in any order.
Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Talking Points on Maker Spaceshttps://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PZGQxb3RjanJybk0/editA short two-page summary of Maker SpacesxJust a very quick summary from IMLS of some of the work being done on making in museums and libraries.
Learning Technologies Center - Science Museum of Minnesotahttp://shimmrglittr.tumblr.com/Main page for the Learning Technologies CenterxxxThe LTC has been doing Making and Tinkering almost as long as the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium (maybe longer?). They were one of the original PIE participants and have worked with MIT Media Lab to develop several programs including using Scratch
Finding, Using, and Organizing Rich Materials for Use in Museum Programshttps://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PRkxuTUNYeGU5MTA/editPresentation slides xThe use of the variety of materials for making is the bane of the existance of many museum educators trying to implement making activities in their spaces. This presentation provides some insights into the use of the materials
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PWE1jeUhqSF9WZjQ/editSketch/Zine document for using materials in museumsx
Learning While Tinkering and Makinghttp://vimeo.com/85481977Webinar from the Association of Science and Technology Centers discussing what learning looks like while tinkering and makingxA really great discussion about some research conducted by the Exploratorium about what learning looks like while making and tinkering.
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PNHJXNkJ4TmRSQUk/editSlides from the webinarx
InnoLab - Montreal Science Centerhttps://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8z0jKmZ1K7PSkJuaW1Wd2V1dWc/editPreliminary concept presentationxMontreal Science Center is in the process of developing, designing, and fabricating their own maker space. A good example as the variety of spaces as well as to how maker spaces in science centers come to exist.
*Type Definitions:
EX = Example (a Maker Space or Making/Tinkering program in a children's museum, science center, or similar informal educational setting)
LI = Logistical Information (information about setting up a space, gathering/storing materials, tool use/maintenance, etc.)
PI = Programming Ideas (resources for activities to do/adapt for use in a Maker Space or Making/Tinkering program)
TR = Training Resources (resources to help train staff for work in a maker space/digital fabrication space)
RE = Research and Evaluation (resources that detail research and evaluation work done on learning in Maker Spaces or Making/Tinkering programs)