The project has reflected on the specific characteristics of makerspaces and in particular how makerspaces may be conceived of as not just concrete spaces (a place to be makeative) but also a specific mindset (a state of makerspacesness). Reflections on the role and use of technologies have been conducted both as part of our secondment-visits and by engaging with secondment-visitors. Furthermore, they have been working on developing and refining our research methods in collaboration with partners both inside and outside of the project and by way of our specific ‘next-practice-lab’ method and open laboratories and experimenting communities as specific explorative research design.
The team has conducted two concrete projects with children, teachers, pedagogues, librarians and visiting scholars and practitioners from the MakEY-project.
In June 2018, the Aarhus University, in collaboration with Copenhagen University, hosted the 3rd Consortium Meeting and Mid-project meeting with the European Union Project Officer. A makerspace was delivered by Mark Shillitoe, maker educator, digital artist, and teacher at International School Utrecht; discussions followed talks by international guests from Australia, Canada, Colombia, and the USA, and presentations on the teams’ progress given to the Project Officer.
The Finnish team have undertaken 3 case studies, which involve 9 children and 2 teachers in Early Childhood Centres, and 12 children and 10 teachers in libraries, where videos and photographs were collected and participants interviewed.
The team is finding that in order to enhance children’s digital literacy and creativity, there needs to be a provision of multimodal maker activities that re-mix tools, means and contexts. The early childhood professionals demonstrated strong pedagogical expertise, which valued children’s agency, were aware of the digital possibilities of the activities, and sparked creativity and imagination.
The next stages of the project will involve disseminating the outcomes with other researchers, teachers and educators in cultural institutions and SMEs.
Researchers have been exploring differences in how children create with physical and virtual materials, as well as how they play with a physical Avakai doll in a virtual world created by Deborah Rodrigues Moreira. A HTC VIVE Tracker was used to take the physical doll into the virtual world, using the program Google Tilt Brush.
Findings so far indicate that the affordances of the physical and virtual domains mean that children can create worlds that have similar features but are quite distinct in nature.
Virtual Reality has much potential for enhancing children’s creativity and digital literacies.
For further reading on the ongoing work, see the MakEY VR blog – https://makeyvr.wordpress.com
The Iceland team consists of seven researchers at the University of Iceland – School of Education (UoI), 3 researchers at the University of Akureyri (UNAK), 1 professional from Innoent, and 1 from Innovation Iceland. 4 case studies are running: Innoent makerspace, Makerspaces in preschool, VEXA: Establishing makerspaces in primary/lower secondary schools, and Minecraft – Virtual makerspace.
The cases are fairly spread regarding whether the settings are formal or informal, permanent vs. temporary and regarding the age of the children. Case 1 is in an informal setting but the other three in formal school settings.
Together with the Science and Technology museum in Oslo, our team has during the last year engaged in design based research. Through close collaboration with museum educators, early childhood educators and children from a nearby kindergarten, we have developed several learning designs involving making. To ensure that our interventions were grounded in actual practices and needs, we started with observing an existing activity in the museum involving the use of bee bots. Then we observed creative making in the kindergarten. From that, we developed an activity where we aimed to foster children’s creative making in relation to the issue of sustainable development. As part of our design based research, we have conducted three design workshops with partners in the project. In August we aim to conduct a final design workshop with participants and have the children engage in a final iteration of our learning design.
The Romanian team ran three series of workshops (each around 9 meetings) in three schools, with groups of children with different socioeconomic backgrounds. Each group was planned to consist of 10 children 6-8 years-old. The venue of the workshops was planned to be in schools (all of them in Bucharest), in a mobile popup makerspace setting.
Different technology and material were used, from video games to Cubelets modular robots and brick adapters to link the robots with Lego blocks, to 3D drawings and digital cameras.
UK – LSE
Working with three museum-based makerspaces for young children in the San Francisco Bay Area, they are examining how parents and families act as learning resources and learning partners to support their young children’s making and tinkering activities both while visiting makerspaces and beyond. The Bay Area, a region known globally for technological innovation, was chosen in order to investigate how families and museum educators who are at the forefront of technology perceive the learning impacts of making now and into the future.
The team has been conducting observations and interviewing parents, children and educators in three museums (the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito and the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley) in order to understand how museums seek to support families, and how and why families come to museum makerspaces as a way of engaging their children in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) learning, and how these broker these experiences into further opportunities to develop digital literacy. A collaboration with museum educators in these sites has also been developed to support their professional development by using our fieldwork to invite reflection on how to incorporate parents into making activities aimed at young children. Additionally, the team has also been working with the Jacobs Institute, a makerspace for members of the UC Berkeley community, to ask current graduate and undergraduate makers to reflect on how their parents and families supported their initial interests in making and tinkering as children.
UK – Sheffield
The Sheffield MakEY project began with a focus on early years settings and schools. However, the project has since expanded to include a focus on makerspaces in libraries and a community centre. The links below provide an update on progress in all three areas.