Makerspaces are informal multipurpose sites designed for collaborative hands-on learning and creative production, with or without tools. These innovative learning spaces offer the opportunity to share materials, skills and ideas to address technological, personal, and societal goals. Evidence suggests that these rapidly proliferating spaces can provide ideal settings for growing STEM participation – but to date this potential remains largely unrealised among unsupported communities. Yet, these spaces have the potential to offer valuable opportunities to underserved and underrepresented young people who are typically marginalised from mainstream engineering, science and technology. The Making Spaces Project, led by Professor Louise Archer (UCL IoE), and funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation<link>, seeks to support equitable youth practice within the sector in order to enable more Makerspaces to fulfil these aims.
Rather than the acquisition of more equipment, makerspaces need accessible new understanding and resources to support increased and widened participation that in turn can address societal challenges, empower learners and communities and transform barriers to equitable STEM participation. This project proposes a solution – building on and extending existing evidence to identify effective, inclusive pedagogy and practices for supporting under-resourced communities to engage in making for social change and creating mechanisms to share and spread this knowledge and practice widely.
The project partners with seven international makerspaces in the UK, USA, Nepal, Slovenia and Palestine to extend understanding of what socially just makerspace practice entails and translate this into practical resources for implementation. Working collaboratively, researchers, practitioners and youth from under-represented communities will (i) test out and extend existing findings, (ii) translate insights into co-produced, engaging, practical, accessible resources that can be used across national contexts and (iii) share and embed change within professional practice globally. Together, these outputs will inform and improve international STEM education policy and practice beyond makerspaces.