Parents and roles in informal making education: Informing and implications for making in museums

Matthew Dickens, Shawn Jordan, Micah Lande

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Scopus citations


Making is becoming a popular activity for young people to get interested in STEM topics. Maker Faire events and extracurricular making clubs support this engagement. Informal science education, particularly through science and technology centers have been adopting making activities for floor programs and some have created maker spaces. This study explores how museums, and in particular children's museums, incorporate making for young makers and families and how educational learning objectives match up with the attributes of making and values expressed by maker families. This will be addressed by both qualitative analysis of ongoing interviews with Young Makers and the parents of Young Makers. Emergent thematic analysis is be used to highlight themes relevant to Maker families working together. Additionally, this work will explore the goals and practices of informal science education museum community and establish a baseline and range of making activities and makerspaces in childrens' museums. There is a trend for museums and science/technology centers to establish Makerspaces. The Pittsburgh Children's Museum has created Makeshop, a makerspace reflecting 7 specific learning practices, for example. Research has shown Makerspaces as sources of multidisciplinary learning, a blending of communities of practice with formal learning, and finally that the depth of learning is in the making. While the research points to the values of making in general, and specifically making in museum makerspaces, there seems to be little research on family making, and how museums can encourage family making. This research hopes to bridge both these gaps by studying the importance of family making and its relevance in children's museums. Data has been collected over the last 3 years from the New York and Bay Area flagship Maker Faires with sets of interviews with approximately 32 Young Makers and the parents of Young Makers. The particular perspective of Maker families and the associated analysis has not been previously done and this study will allow for me to explore what it means to be a Maker family. Additionally, I will extend this work to have discussions with museum professionals of their informal STEM learning goals and how the hands-on exploration, tinkering and discovery abound in the Maker community could fit the learning goals. Guidelines and best practices across childrens' museums and will create a taxonomy of varying levels of use of making activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2016 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
StatePublished - Jun 26 2016
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jun 29 2016


Other123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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