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MAKESHOP is a makerspace embedded in the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh that is changing the intersection of informal and formal learning.


Pittsburgh, United States
MAKESHOP is a research-based learning environment for children and families to make, play and design using “real stuff”— the same materials, tools, and processes used by professional artists, builders, programmers and creators of all kinds. It is a place where physical materials and digital media resources intersect; where visitors can be curious, creative, experimental and innovative.


“Making is what we do in the real world... We're not asked to fill in blanks or bubbles. We're asked to be productive and come up with new ways of doing things.”

Bonnie Dyer, Curriculum & Instruction Coordinator, Allegheny Intermediate Unit

In 2011, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center, and learning researchers came together to design an exhibit space within the Museum that facilitates hands-on materials exploration while investigating how making enhances learning. The result, after several rounds of prototyping, was the first museum makerspace - MAKESHOP.

MAKESHOP is designed as a real workshop - unpolished, accessible and functional - and was built using wood and metal with exposed fasteners to tell the story of how things are made. 

Cardboard, plastic food containers, old clothes, scrap lumber and broken toys all find new purposes and uses in MAKESHOP. Many of the materials are reused or upcycled, taking on a new and different life with the help of tools and imagination.

A permanent exhibit in the Museum, MAKESHOP sees over 300,000 children and families each year. This stream of participants enables the Museum to test best practices, do research on facilitation strategies, and use MAKESHOP as a professional development tool for educators. 

With our cumulative daily experiences in MAKESHOP, the Museum's Teaching Artists, Educators, and Research Team have designed tools and resources that make it easy to create a community-focused MAKESHOP in your own school, library, or education organization.

This same team also worked closely with educators to develop Principles of Practice for MAKESHOP, essentially a shared language and common approach to the presentation of making to learners in the Museum setting. The use of these Principles of Practice – which range from Inquiry to Intention and Tinkering to Hacking – guides the design of MAKESHOP experiences for people of all ages, including both teachers and students. 

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Innovation Overview
4 - 18
Age Group
130 000
Tips for implementation
You will need a space (ANY space) and educators and learners with an interest in hands-on learning. That's really it. We can provide you with the training and online resources you need to make the rest happen. Your makerspace can be filled with anything from 3D printers to recycled cardboard. There is no hard and fast requirement for materials or tools.
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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Open from 10am - 5pm most days of the year, MAKESHOP is a permanent exhibit at the Children's Museum.
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Check out the MAKESHOP Blog, Twitter, and Instagram
The MAKESHOP blog is the best place to get historical information about how the Museum developed MAKESHOP and how it has evolved over the years. Use twitter and Instagram to stay up to date on the daily happenings in MAKESHOP.
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Use the Making Spaces Tools
In partnership with Google and Maker Ed, the Children's Museum has developed a network of schools, libraries and education centers with an expertise in making. Use the same tools and resources they do.
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Attend a Professional Development Session
The Museum offers a variety of PD opportunities for educators.
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