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Uncovering the principles of practice that make making work.

This research-based learning space is a permanent exhibit inside the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. MAKESHOP is a drop-in environment where children and families make, play, and design using “real stuff”—the same materials, tools, and processes used by professional artists, builders, programmers, and creators of all kinds.



HundrED has selected this innovation to

Pittsburgh, USA






March 2019
When kids are making, they’re learning about how their environment is constructed, and how they can be agents in that construction—they’re capable of changing their environment.

About the innovation

How can museums help educators implement maker learning?

In 2011, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh partnered with learning researchers to design a new kind of museum exhibit. In this space, young patrons would explore real tools, materials, and processes while museum educators investigated the practices and possibilities of maker learning. The result was the first museum makerspace: MAKESHOP.

At MAKESHOP, materials like cardboard, plastic food containers, old clothes, scrap lumber, and broken toys find new purposes and uses, taking on a new and different life with the help of tools and imagination.

While visitors are weaving on the MAKESHOP’s loom, building cardboard creations, and creating stop-motion animations, museum educators are testing principles of materials exploration, investigating strategies for supporting learning, and refining the practice of maker education.

How can museums help educators implement maker learning?

What happens at MAKESHOP reaches far beyond the walls of the museum. MAKESHOP has become a hub for maker-learning resources, equipping educators from around the world with tools to integrate making into their unique learning context.

MAKESHOP staff have identified seven core learning practices that empirically describe children’s engagement in MAKESHOP, creating a common language around making as a learning process.

Through partnerships with Maker Ed, Google, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Science Foundation, and others, MAKESHOP has supported the design and creation of hundreds of makerspaces across the world, and provided resources and professional development to thousands of educators.

Impact & scalability

Academy review results
Read more about our selection process

Implementation steps


Come us in person! The Children's Museum programs activities in MAKESHOP on a daily basis as well as encourages free exploration of the tools and materials available.

Check out the MAKESHOP Blog, Twitter, and Instagram
Use the Making Spaces Tools

In 2016, the Museum launched with Making Spaces project with Google and Maker Ed. This project set out create a network museum, libraries and other education institutions across the country to serve as experts in making for schools in their community. These hubs each train 5-10 schools or smaller education organization in their community to set up and facilitate their own, indvidually designed and programmed makerspaces.

Through this “hub and spoke” model, over 100 schools have been active in building makerspaces. As a part of this scaling, the Museum worked with the hubs to test and refine a suite of "tools" meant to guide the development, planning, and implementation of makerspaces.

You can find the tool kit here.

Read more about Making Spaces here.

Attend a Professional Development Session

Check out Boot Camp.

If you can't attend in person, use these tools can help you leverage a makerspace as an education resource in your community.

Spread of the innovation

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