Bonnie Dyer, Curriculum & Instruction Coordinator, Allegheny Intermediate Unit
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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.