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Uncovering the principles of practice that make making work.


Pittsburgh, United States
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.

How can museums help educators implement maker learning?

Rebecca Grabman, MAKESHOP Manager
“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.”

Rebecca Grabman, MAKESHOP Manager

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.

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Innovation Overview
4 - 11
Age Group
2 280 000
1 126
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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Teacher Professional Development
The Learning Practices of Making


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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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