The Curricular Spectacle of Making: Materiality, Mobility and Boundary Shifters


This presentation reviews a research project titled Deployable Makerspace Classrooms: Mobility, Additive Manufacturing, and Curricular Spectacle (funded by the US National Science Foundation). Researchers have demonstrated that experiential learning is essential to engaging the next generation of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) professionals. Experiential curricula that utilizes 3D printing, and an interdisciplinary framework for design thinking has the potential to:

i) increase student engagement,
ii) create more effective integration of engineering and technology-rich concepts across curricula, and
iii) provide a deeper connection to real-world inquiry necessary for authentic learning between the arts and engineering.


The presentation will explore what possibilities for engagement and curriculum development occur when you take the makerspace to the learner. This research presents certain high risk factors in that it may invite high levels of engagement with short term gains, however it presents high payoff potential in reaching a far greater range of learners in addition to exploring a fuller spectrum of STEAM education including design-in-context decision making, investigating material possibilities for material extrusion, and issues concerning material sourcing and sustainability. Proposed research findings will inform increased capacity for arts curricula via differentiated models that cater to the wide range of audiences enabled by the space's mobility.


Recently, this has been put into practice through growing interest in highly-visible, informal learning spaces utilizing 3D printing, such as MakerBot Innovation Centers and so-called "3D printing vending machines." Deployable Makerspace Classrooms curates object collections (both equipment and consumables) that deploy as mobile makerspaces with adaptable curricular kits that engage learners in design and material education using 3D printing to extend this high-visibility approach.

Importantly, this research brings together important technological innovations that are transforming how we conceptualize STEAM education: digital fabrication, makerspace culture, and mobility. Central to the conceptualization of the mobile makerspace is the role of material exploration and digital fabrication technologies that act as boundary shifters: entities that reconceptualize via practice boundaries that are defined through disciplines, discourses, and spaces. Boundary shifters, much like edge effects, allow us to rethink the role of material exploration in experiential learning as a form of embodied curriculum that can transform knowledge structures and the nature of inquiry in relation to disciplinary orientations.