Find out what a makerspace is and see how educators are using them in this Thing.

We explore Makey Makey, Raspberry Pi, Robotics, 3D printing and Minecraft. We share resources about how to set up your own makerspace.

So what is a Makerspace?

A makerspace (sometimes called maker culture)  is an area with tools to support hands on learning and creativity so students can tinker, design, construct, build, experiment, hack, invent, fix and problem solve.
“Tinkering is about hands-on experiences, learning from failures, and unstructured time to explore and invent ” From Tinkerlab: What is Tinkering


Why commit time and effort to a Makerspace?

Makerspace has its beginning firmly rooted in a constructivist ideology to form a constructivist and constructionist approach to education, as introduced by Jean Piaget and developed by Seymour Papert.  Makerspace for Education gives a detailed overview of these theories here. 

“[Students] are experimenting, imagining, making mistakes and adjustments to plans, and discovering where their imagination can take them.  They develop resiliency, do out-of the-box thinking, engage in authentic learning, do problem solving, work in collaboration, exhibit leadership, and in the process become lifelong learners…[Makerspaces] help produce innovators, and producers of new knowledge.  And all the while the kids are having fun.” From Stop, hey, what’s that sound… Maker Spaces are Going Round

The key to success is to ensure that the makerspace projects students are working on are purposeful, relevant, linked to real-life scenarios and challenges… and linked to the NZ Curriculum.  Makerspace projects can be designed to support students in developing each of the five key competencies:

Makey Makey

The Makey Makey is an electronic invention kit which allows you to take everyday objects and combine them with the internet.

Resources to get you started with Makey Makey:

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi are tiny cheap computers. They use Kano software.

You can code robotics digital tools with them. Students can edit software for games such as Minecraft, Pong,  and Python Snake, so they can make games – not just play them! Thing21 has more on coding.

Here are some excellent schemes of work to teach using Raspberry Pi with the Getting Started with Raspberry Pi lesson a fabulous place to start. Makerspace in Education have some great challenges that you can utilize too, that use Raspberry Pi.


The robots are coming ……

Designing, constructing and controlling robots can be done using electronic digital tools so that the robot microcontrollers can be programmed to do things. We’ve been tinkering with Edison which has these robotics lesson resources.

There are also products by Arduino  and Little Bits (see  how to use it).

 3D printing

3D printers build a three dimensional solid object from a digital file. It uses an additive process, printing layers of material (usually plastic) to create the object.

You can design/draw in Google SketchUp , FormZ, TinkerCadOpenSCAD and then have that design built.  You could also use CAD (Computer Aided Design) such as Blender (which has many features) or Tinkercad (which is easy to use even with younger students). You can scan and copy an existing object with a 3D scanner.

You can also reuse existing designs. Check out the free open repositories Thingiverse and youmagine.

Makerspace for Education has a wonderful resource page to support the use of Tinkercad in the classroom with some Tinkercad challenges at the bottom of  the page. MakerBot in the Classroom gives you the basics of 3D printing in the classroom and design as well as ideas, projects, and activities for integrating 3D printers in your curriculum.

Educational Technology and Mobile Learning share the importance of  3D Printing in Education and the video, Will 3D Printing Change the World?, is an interesting to watch.

Minecraft in Education

Creating a Maker Space in your school or classroom

Here are some ideas for starting a school makerspace:

NZ workshops

Here in NZ amazing  OMG Tech! volunteers run cool future tech workshops (robots, rockets, biotech and more) for school children.

You can also check out Makers Org Nz which is a national network of people interested in community, new-digital literacy and/or making and learning in New Zealand.


try-this-iconTry this

Choose one of the makerspace options listed on this page, have a play and then blog about what key competencies you utilized (or could utilize) and how. You could add in how you could use the makerspace option in your classroom.

explore-further-iconExplore further

General Resources for Makerspaces:

Makerspace in Education is an incredible resources for anyone starting out.  It is a must visit from our point of view! You can download most of the content of the site as a pdf – The Making of a Makerspace: Pedagogical and Physical Transformations of Teaching and Learning.

Core Education have created a bundlr of resource ideas for the maker culture. Similarly, Renovated Learning have a list of useful resources.

The resources shared by Makerspace in Education cover pretty much everything you need to know to make your makerspace projects a success. Their Best of the Web page also has valuable links.

Here are some apps for makerspaces from the School Library Journal.

Find out more about the Maker Movement with these Invent to Learn resources.

Brisbane Grammar School’s The Lunchbox Club is a maker space environment for Year 7 and 8 boys that meets during lunchtimes to explore new technologies in education. For more go to lunchboxclub.bgslibraryblog.org.

Specialized Resources for Makerspaces:

Makey Makey

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi and hour of Code


 Enabling e-Learning Robotics section has a number of resources, references, examples and a great section on how to get started with using robotics in your classroom.

Chris Clay’s blog post on Robotics and Unlocking the Code for Robotics in the classroom gives some insights into the value of robotics in the classroom.

Circuit Scribe can be purchased and used to draw a working circuit (no need to solder).

Pocketlab wireless sensor that lets you gather data about the world then see it on your device in real time.

Some teachers recommend Dot and Dash with ECE learners due to the visual coding and  mBot and Mindstorms with older learners.

See how to make this Bristle Bot.

3D Printers

This 3D Print School site showcases designs by students at Auroa Primary School. It is designed to encourage the use of 3D Printers in the Classroom by sharing examples and good practise and so has a wealth of resources and ideas to get you started.

Stephen Lethbridge shares what Taupaki School have been doing with 3D printing in his blog post, 3D Printing in Schools. 


The Minecraft in Education YouTube Channel as a number of videos to support you as you introduce Minecraft into the classroom.

Minecraft part of students’ learning at Opaheke School showcases how one NZ school is using Minecraft.

MinecraftEDU has lesson examples by subject which contains examples of what other teachers have created with MinecraftEdu (some have lesson plans). Lessons for Minecraft  and Great Minecraft Lessons  has ideas for all of the core curriculum areas.

Why Minecraft in Education? shares some videos about how Minecraft can be used to support student engagement, collaboration, creative exploration, independence and perseverance. Ask a Tech Teacher believes that Minecraft teaches Reading, Writing and Problem Solving and Digital Citizenship and shows how.


Header image: Sarah Jade photography/ CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ
Icons: Everaldo Coelho and YellowIcon / GNU Lesser General Public License

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License.

23 teaching things is written by Lucie Lindsay and Bronwyn Edmunds at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education and Social Work. #23Teaching

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