Maker Plan – Planning your space

How do you begin to plan a maker space?


A Makerspace houses a community of Makers. It’s a place where someone would come to learn how to use a new tool or material in a new way, or to see what others are working on because they might want to help out on that project or start something similar. Ideally, your Makerspace should be conducive to inspiration, collaboration, and conversation” (Makerspace Playbook, p.13). To begin, create a maker plan.


Use these resources


Makerspace Resources

Setting Up Your MakerSpace


Another practical idea you can do in addition to a Maker Plan is to create a floorplan using this tool from Scholastic based on your existing or ideal MakerSpace. Check out the organization images for ideas on how to maintain an efficient space. Further inspiration is found in this set of slides from Robert Pronovost of the Ravenswood School, Empty Classroom to Engaging MakerSpace.


What maker educators are doing


John Umekubo is co-facilitated a workshop on Design Thinking and Maker Spaces at the EdTech Teacher conference in San Diego on February 1, 2015.


During that workshop John shared this google doc originally from the ATLIS conference last April. It has since been viewed by many educators across the country looking to see what others are doing.The document is from the session Culture, Environment, Meaning: Critical Issues for Makerspaces and has information from those who are planning currently running a makerspace.


Design Thinking for Learning Design

Introduction to Design Thinking

Design Thinking

Image from

Design Thinking is a methodology to generate innovative ideas that focuses on understanding and effectively solving the real needs of users. It comes from the way in which product designers work. Hence its name, which means “the way designers think.”


Design Thinking is an innovation generator and it can be applied to any field, including the development of products and services or to improve processes or define business models.


Design Thinking is developed following a process that generates the empathy necessary to understand the problems, needs and desires of the users. Satisfying people is the key to a successful outcome.


To begin using design thinking, consider these points:


The techniques and materials used in Design Thinking are available to everyone. Grab markers, sheets of paper, sticky notes, crayons, glue and a camera. These  tools to promote visual communication, which is essential in the methodology. And what is more important: an image can evoke a host of ideas, and that is open to interpretation.


Teamwork is essential in Design Thinking. The more diverse your team, the better, to add a variety of views, knowledge and experience.


During the process you will need a flexible work-space. Look for a site large enough to work around a table, with walls where you can post the information that you go generating. Somewhere comfortable and conducive to relaxed working is ideal.


Adopt a design attitude during your sessions. This means being curious, empathetic, questioning and see mistakes as opportunities.


A Design Thinking process consists of several stages. It is not linear. At any time you can go backward or forward if you see fit, jumping even non-consecutively. You collect a lot of information, generate a lot of content that grows or shrinks depending on the phase in which you are.


What is the process?

There are several different models and methods of design thinking. Katja Tschimmel introduces 5 models in Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation (2012) in: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona.


My favorite model is as follows:


Image from


Empathize: Design Thinking process begins with a thorough understanding of the needs of the users involved in the solution we are developing, as well as their environment. The team should out themselves in the shoes of these people to be able to generate solutions consistent with their realities.


Define: During the definition phase, the team sifts through the information gathered during the Empathy and selects what actually adds value and leads us to reach new interesting or perspectives. Problems whose solutions will be key to obtain an innovative result are developed.


Ideate: The stage of ideation aims to generate endless options. At this stage, the activities encourage expansive thinking and elimination of value judgments. Sometimes strange ideas become visionary solutions.


Prototype: At the stage of prototyping ideas become reality. Prototypes make ideas tangible and helps the team visualize other possible solutions, highlighting elements that we need to improve or refine before reaching the final result.


Test: During the testing phase, the team tests prototypes with users involved. This phase is crucial and helps the team identify significant improvements and resolve any shortcomings.


Iterate: Iteration is continual experimentation and development based on user feedback.


Design Thinking Templates and Tools to Explore




We remember what we do #makered by Clif Mims

image by Clif Mims

Meaningful Making: Projects and Inspirations for FabLabs and Makerspaces: Free e-book from the FabLearn Fellows


Free e-book from the FabLearn Fellows

Meaningful Making: Projects and Inspirations for FabLabs and Makerspaces

Edited by Paulo Blikstein, Sylvia Libow Martinez, Heather Allen Pang


Project ideas, articles, best practices, and assessment strategies from educators at the forefront of making and experiential education.


Click here to download


About this book

Around the world, there is a new movement to use the new tools and technology of the Maker Movement to give children authentic learning experiences beyond textbooks and tests. The Stanford FabLearn Fellows are a group of 18 educators who are working at the forefront of this new movement in all corners of the globe. They teach in FabLabs, makerspaces, classrooms, libraries, community centers, and museums – all with the goal of making learning more meaningful in the modern world.


In this book, the FabLearn Fellows share projects, assessment strategies, lesson planning guides, and ideas from their learning spaces. In over 200 pages illustrated with color photos of real student work, the Fellows take you on a tour of the future of learning, where children make sense of the world by making things that matter to them and their communities. To read this book is to rediscover learning as it could be and should be – a joyous, mindful exploration of the world, where the ultimate discovery is the potential of every child.


ISBN: 978-0-9891511-2-2

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Published by Constructing Modern Knowledge Press

Introducing Jakki Spicer, Maker Ed’s Director of Development

Jakki HeadshotMy father was a tinkerer. Not that you’d know it in our house, where he routinely broke everything he set out to fix (my mother learned exactly how much it cost to repair an engine into which windshield wiping fluid was poured into the antifreeze chamber).

But he was a scientist who made the kind of discoveries that, I found out, some people attributed to alien communications (true story!), because it was so original, because he saw things in ways that no one else did. He tinkered with ideas and concepts, visualizing problems where other scientists might think about them abstractly, mathematically. And this from someone who didn’t learn to read until he was 12, who was told he wasn’t very smart most of his life, who couldn’t quite remember the order of the alphabet and routinely spelled “really” with one “l.”

My father taught me that curiosity matters more than test scores, that intelligence works in a thousand different ways. And that’s why I feel so privileged to be working with Maker Ed. I get to work at an organization and with people who remind me every day of the power of inquisitiveness, of being alive to learning in all its aspects, and who work really hard to bring that joy to every educator and every child and every learning space.

me with monkey

My journey to Maker Ed has been roundabout, as all good journeys are. As a child, my parents—both educators—bestowed upon me a love of learning, a desire to know more, to not take information for granted, to ask why things were the way they were. My father would take me to his lab and let liquid nitrogen run across the floor, chasing itself as it steamed into its gaseous form. My mother would give me books on Greek mythology and African folk tales, tangrams and giant Tinker Toys.

And so I have always loved to think about things, take things and ideas apart and put them back together in new ways, connect them up into new configurations; from the time I was four or five years old, my mother was convinced I’d grow up to be a philosopher. She was almost right: I earned a Ph.D. in the humanities, writing a dissertation on autobiography, modernity and the construction of the individual. But I also worked in book publishing for a while, studied in France, traveled through Eastern Europe, wrote for national arts publications and hyper-local news sites, taught myself origami and French cooking. Also, I’m a private pilot and am writing a novel. Because: Why not?

cap'n jakki 2Eventually, my journeys took me into nonprofit development, where I’ve been working for the last eight years or so. It fits my desire to make the world just a little bit better, and it makes good use of the skills I developed in graduate school in researching, writing and distilling complex ideas into compelling prose; of convincing people of things I believe in. I’ve worked at a diversity of places: KQED, the JCC of the East Bay, Places Journal, for instance, learning a lot more about nonprofits, development, and the delightful puzzle of articulating the right fit between an organization and funders.

I’m thrilled to be here now at Maker Ed, to be part of an organization that works to provide the infrastructure and capacity necessary to ensure every child has the opportunity to engage in their natural tinkering and making inclinations, to discover a passion and delight in learning that means they never stop pursuing it. To tell the world that curiosity matters more than test scores, and intelligence works in a thousand different ways. I think my parents would be very proud. I know I am.

Source: Introducing Jakki Spicer, Maker Ed’s Director of Development

Infographic: The Rise of Maker Ed from littleBits


Five Key Principles to Makerspace Success

from eSchool News by Trevor Shaw, Director of Technology, Dwight-Englewood School
The Maker Movement embodies so much of what we are trying to achieve in education, that it isn’t surprising to see so many schools giving over precious square footage to Makerspaces.


Creating a space, stocking it, and staffing it, however, are just the beginning, and some might say, the easiest part of the job.


In order for such a space to have an impact on school culture, you have to design engaging activities and projects. While this task sounds daunting, you don’t have to be an expert, and you don’t have to have a huge budget to get started in small but meaningful ways.


Below are five guiding principles for schools to consider as they prepare to launch their makerspace or to bring their existing space to the next level.


1. Stock your space as best you can. Don’t let budget limitations keep you from getting started.

Laser cutters and 3D printers definitely get kids excited, but starting with a glue gun and repurposed, recycled materials is a great way to build innovation. Consider three categories as you stock your space:

  • Tools: pliers, saws, rotary tools, 3D printers
  • Materials: craft supplies, glue, paint, cardboard, foam core
  • Electronics: LEDs, resistors, motors, and devices like Arduinos, Little Bits or MakeyMakeys

2. Be creative in your staffing. Be generous in your training
Some of the best contributions to my school’s makerspace didn’t come from a techie; they came from one of our art teacher. She got us to think about our space and materials in entirely new ways. Enthusiasm for student tinkering is by far the most important qualification for a makerspace manager. All the rest can be learned, but you have to commit some resources to help that person get up to speed.

3. Offer an elective course
Ideally, you want your makerspace to be open to all students and teachers, but many won’t have any idea of how to use it without a little structure and some concrete examples. Offering an elective class in robotics,physical computing, or wearable technology is a great way to build interest among a core group of students and to generate examples so that other teachers can begin to see uses in their own subject areas.


4. Design projects using what we already know about great student-centered classrooms.
Kids are naturally curious, but without careful project design, many of them will become frustrated and disengage. Assess what they already know, and design projects that match their interests and ability levels. Model good research and problem solving techniques for them. Coach them in self-assessment, and hold them accountable to the standards that they defined. In short, get them to own their learning!


5. Make it Public!
Students need to feel that what they are doing is real and meaningful and not simply a hoop set up by their teachers. Public display is a great way to add authenticity to a project. Display student work in a gallery or school library. Post videos and photos on a school blog. Host a Maker Day event.

Next Steps: If you are getting ready to launch a school makerspace, or you are looking for ways to make your existing space more impactful, Genesis Learning is here to help. We offer a variety of services designed to help schools build a culture of innovation.


Bare Bones STEM Kits: These turnkey “project in a box,” kits contain pre-selected, components needed to complete an electronic or robotic challenge, including a teacher guide with a detailed project plan and daily lesson plans.


Professional Development: We provide on-site training and online courses to help teachers get familiar with makerspace technologies, such as 3D printing and electronics,and to become comfortable with the project-based learning approach.


Makerspace in a Box: A comprehensive kit that Includes equipment, materials, and tools to get your makerspace off the ground.


Custom designed curricula: We provide curricula for a variety of makerspace classes including Physical Computing, Robotics and Wearable Technology. Custom-designed courses aligned to Common Core or Next Generation Science Standards are also available.


To learn more about any of these service or to download sample curriculum documents, visit us at's Asylum Open House 2012 | SCUL robot sculpture in the custom bike fabrication workshop

Chris Devers via Compfight


Resources for Digital MakerSpaces

Buzz aldrin and kid makers

Light Painting Brett James via Compfight


Have you considered a digital Makerspace? Here are some ideas from Makers and more to get you started


Thinking About Our New Makerspace…..Bringing It Online With The “Digital Makerspace” Too


Digital MakerSpace Fun


Making a Makerspace: Peek Inside My Plans


Digital Makers






Make a Roman Mosaic


Digital Atelier


Mozilla Teaching Activities


7 Creative Apps for Show What They Know


Maker/Coding Apps