Exploring the value of makerspaces in 21st-century education

26 Jan 2021

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Dublin Maker will host an inaugural event for educators, makers and makerspace facilitators to examine how these spaces can contribute to young people’s education.

An event to encourage people to explore the possibilities of a makerspace will take place online this week.

Educators, makers, youth trainers and anyone who is involved with an educational or public space that could benefit from a makerspace are invited to attend the event on Thursday, 28 January.

Hosted by Dublin Maker, the AssessMake 21 event aims to demonstrate what makerspaces can bring to communities. Participants will explore the creative possibilities of a makerspace, whether located in schools or outside of formal education spaces.

‘Valid educational environments’

“Makerspaces are valid educational environments, as well as a valuable tool for the development of 21st-century skills,” said Deirdre Green, programme manager at the Learnovate Centre in Trinity College Dublin and a member of the AssessMake 21 project team.

“AssessMake 21 seeks to enable teachers and makerspace facilitators by exploring ways to gather evidence of this skills development,” she added.

Rene Alimisi, who has contributed to the establishment of makerspaces and STEM clubs in Athens, Greece, said the AssessMake 21 event will revolve around the concept of makerspaces and the learning opportunities associated with making activities.

“Our aim is to inspire teachers and educators to see makerspaces as environments that boost not just creations but also connections, community and a wide range of skills and competences,” she said.

Current makerspace facilitators are also invited to attend the event, which will feature sessions with Leo Scarff of Fab Lab Maker Hub and Chris Reina of MakerMeet Ireland.

Scarff is co-founder of the Fab Lab Maker Hub, a digital fabrication facility based in Manorhamilton in the north-west of Ireland. He will share his experience of developing makerspaces for local libraries and arts organisations, and running workshops on 3D printing, laser cutting, computer-aided design and more.

MakerMeet Ireland provides practical skills in maker education and project-based learning using the constructionist approach set out by Seymour Papert. Reina, co-owner of MakerMeet Ireland, believes everyone is a maker and will discuss why young people in particular should be given the opportunities to continue their maker education.

21st-century skills

AssessMake 21 is a project co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union. It acknowledges the growth of the maker movement both in education and in informal spaces and sets out to assess its contributions to 21st-century skills development.

Groups formed around the maker community can offer young learners the opportunity to engage and interact with computer programming, robotics and electronics in ways that are centred on creativity, passion projects and problem-solving. The goal of AssessMake 21 is to provide, pilot and validate assessment methods for these unique, open-ended learning environments.

The project will deliver pilot studies in five schools and four non-formal makerspaces in Ireland, Sweden, Greece and Cyprus. It is expected that these studies will lead to the development of open educational resources to support teachers and students.

The AssessMake 21 event hosted by Dublin Maker is free to attend but space is limited. Interested participants can register via Eventbrite.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.