Satellite MAKESHOPS Build Skills for the 21st Century

Jul 19, 2013 Education

MAKESHOP, at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, is a space for children and families to make, play and design using "real stuff"—materials, tools, processes and ideas. Now, the successful program is expanding to West Virginia and rural Pennsylvania with satellite MAKESHOPS.

According to Jane Werner, executive director of the Children's Museum, extensive prototyping for the mobile program has been underway and the satellite program is scheduled to launch in 2014. The MAKESHOP team has been conducting "pop-up maker workshops," where staff members pedal a bicycle-drawn cart to parks and do spontaneous activities to determine people's reaction. In addition, the team has been working with teachers and librarians to expand the program into schools and libraries, and is establishing a program for preservice teachers at West Liberty University.

MAKESHOP, a partnership of the Children's Museum, Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments, has been incredibly successful and nationally recognized.

"The learning that is happening at MAKESHOP is deep and interesting, conversations are really rich, and parents and children are learning together in self-directed projects," explains Werner. The program encourages children to discover their interests and pursue the idea, which Werner points out, "are the kinds of skills that will be needed for the 21st century."

Werner is on the board of the national Maker Education Initiative, a program focused on the "maker movement" and its impact on schools and education. She says that the Initiative has pinpointed the Power of 32 Region as a prime example of how everybody can work together for kids.

This doesn't surprise Werner, who says the region has a strong work ethic and a let's make something attitude. "The region is known for making things. The maker movement is a new way to think about making things in the 21st century it's a different kind of manufacturing. We can be seen as a hotbed of this type of thinking in education and industry."