Dr. Kirk Lewis Career and Technical High School


The Maker Movement is a frequent saying that is being skyrocketed to the top of education conversations around the globe. It is not only shaping how we discuss our cities, our workplaces and the future of our economy, but it is also fundamentally revolutionizing practices in education. Beyond the rise of STEM education topics, creating a makerspace seems to be a hot button for educators and administrators. However, in the fever to discuss maker education, the learning community is forgetting to note that the maker movement is not about creating a standalone makerspace, but it is about creating a maker culture.

When building a maker culture in schools, it is important to not just replace a library or a computer lab with a space that fosters interaction and creation. Building a maker culture takes hard work and investment from the community, the design team, every teacher and every student. To build a successful maker culture, in a very basic sense begins with crafting a unique educational experience that is individualized and collaborative in nature. To start this process, the community must examine and retool:

  • Learning Spaces. The maker culture needs spaces that encourage learners to get messy and prototype multiple solutions. These spaces should extend beyond the normal classrooms or libraries and be spaces that foster working with multiple materials across multiple disciplines.
  • Curriculum. Quick failures can sometimes lead to better ideas and future success. Most curriculum that does not allow for project based learning tends to advocate for rote memorization as opposed to active exploration through real world challenges. Today’s student will be expected to answer complex questions that require a trans-disciplinary approach to solving problems. Curriculum must support deeper knowledge and active learning.
  • Pedagogy. One of the most difficult tasks in building a maker culture centers around how educators teach students. Teachers use a mix of varying styles in order to reach students in a maker culture. By becoming guides on the side and facilitators for students in project-based learning, teachers truly foster authentic learning moments. Furthermore, by offering a student-centered learning environment as opposed to teacher-led classroom activities, teachers must give up a bit of control within the classroom in order to foster shared responsibility among every learner.

Ultimately, project based learning invites students to learn through practice as opposed to theory. And, project based learning is discovered at the heart of the maker movement. One of the many challenges to building a maker culture can be in hiring professionals from different industries to come teach in career and technical programs for a school district. Though, there are many ways to address that problem and still produce an effective maker movement throughout your school.


Karina Ruiz

Karina Ruiz is the Global Sector Lead for the IBI Group Education practice. With over 20 years of experience in architecture and planning, Karina is passionate about shaping the future of this world specifically in the teaching and learning spaces of educational environments. She currently resides in Portland. Tweet her: @RuizPDX

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