Thrifty Makerspaces

This project conducts a design-based research to build a systematic approach for developing sustainable makerspaces in resource-constrained schools. These makerspaces aim to instill a maker mindset among the students, whereby they become productive risk-takers and develop a sense of agency over their own learning. The project produces a model for such contextually-relevant makerspaces that sustain beyond the research intervention by empowering underprivileged students with a sense of ownership. The project also challenges the general presumption that conducting effective maker-based learning necessitates use of certain expensive equipment. The first implementation site is located in Bangalore, India, where a prototype is being tested in a government school located in an underdeveloped neighborhood.

The project investigates systematic factors at play by iteratively developing the model for three interconnected elements of makerspaces: space, activities and materials, and community building strategies. The space is designed to be an unstructured, informal, drop-in space for students, something they think of as between their school and home, and that encourages their curiosity, sense of wonder, and playfulness. The activities are driven by the students’ ideas and interests and pertain to a range of issues relevant to their local context. Norms and values are deliberately introduced for building a productive community of practice, by engaging with the school teachers through demonstration lectures and workshops with maker experts.