Makerspaces and maker culture have quickly become a favorite of STEAM advocates, and new research shows that makerspaces can be highly effective at helping elementary students develop skills such as critical thinking, design thinking, and problem solving.
Research from Macquarie University in Australia demonstrates how, with proper training and professional development, teachers can harness makerspaces and improve teaching and learning outcomes.
From August 2017 to July 2018, Macquarie University’s Department of Educational Studies partnered with the NSW Department of Education, Carlingford West Public School, Parramatta East Public School, Oatlands Public School and Makers Empire, which produces a 3D platform for K-8 educators, for a research study on maker pedagogy and makerspaces in primary schools.
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The study examines how maker activities using 3D design and 3D printing technology could enhance learning and teaching outcomes. Teachers from three schools used Makers Empire’s Learning by Design professional development course and participating students used Makers Empire’s 3D modelling software.
Using the makerspaces led to higher student engagement, confidence, and determination to try new approaches to tough challenges, according to the report. Struggling students in particular seemed to to benefit from maker activities.