National Study of Makerspaces
Making Culture, part of the ExCITe Center’s Learning Innovation initiative, is the product of a year-long investigation visiting 30 K-12 education makerspaces across 12 metropolitan regions and conducting in-depth interviews with students, instructors, and leadership alongside observation and study of each space and its program. Background on the study's methodology and workflow is below.
The survey was led by Dr. Brian Smith, a Professor of Learning Technology in the Drexel School of Education, and staffed by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Kareem Edouard and graduate student Katelyn Bright. The survey began in March with visits to five sites across three states and four cities. The range of locations spanned kindergarten classrooms to senior high school robotics labs. Each location provided a glimpse into the operation, curriculum, and funding practices of makerspaces. Diversity of communities played a role in the selection of sites, described in detail below. The breadth of the subject spaces provided a diverse prism to unpack the makerspace movement across K-12 institutions. On the site visits, we captured the data using a methodology with four qualitative measurements shown below.
We continued the data gathering process this past summer, transitioning from a K-12 regular school schedule to visiting makerspaces, labs and camps focused on making and learning. This variation in site visits allowed for needed diversity of our sample size. A sampling of the types of schools we visited includes:
- An all-girls public school for intellectually gifted students in grades 6-12 with a curriculum emphasizing science, technology, engineering, art and math, encouraging students in areas and careers where girls are under-represented. More than 60% of the students are first generation college bound, and 65% of students qualifying for free/ reduced meals. The makeup of the school consists of 65% Hispanic students, 20% Caucasian/White, 9% African American/Black, and 6% multicultural/other.
- An elementary school with a mission of leadership development by teaching and living habits of happy kids. The school’s enrollment is currently at 833 students, with the population being 3.7% Asian, 48.3% Caucasian/white, 41.4% Hispanic, 3.4% African American/Black, and 3.2% as multicultural/other.
- A public high school where every student at this high school has the opportunity to enroll in college level classes and earn college credit. The facility is a community school that offers a Family Resource Center including child care during the day. The school’s demographics are made up of 15.2% African American/Black students, 77.8% Hispanic, 3.4% White, 0.1% American Indian, 3.0% Asian, and 0.6% as multicultural/other. The enrollment as of 2017 is 1,253 students, with 81.3% of the population as economically disadvantaged.
- An independent private K-12 school that enrolls 630 students with a mission to spark in students of diverse backgrounds and talents, a passion for learning, accomplishment, and contribution to their communities, specifically with a “learn by doing” mindset.
- A high school that is located in the most ethnically diverse neighborhood its state, with a population that is 36.4% Latino, 27.5% caucasian/white, 21.6% African American, 6.9% Asian, and 1.3% Native American, as well as 6.5% identifying as another ethnicity.
- A magnet public high school which operates on the principles of project-based learning in the context of a technology integrated one-to-one laptop school. 34% of students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and 38% of students identify as African American/Black, 37% identify as white, 10% identify as Hispanic, 10% identify as Asian, and 5% identify as multicultural/other.
- A middle and high school with a motto of success today and greatness tomorrow by focusing on doing the right thing at the right time and for the right reason. At this school only 7% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and 85% of students identify as Caucasian/White, while 8% identify as Asian.