"The most important quality of a makerspace is that it encourages creativity... The culture in a space should support the idea that anything is possible." -Parker Thomas, “3 Key Qualities for a School Makerspace"

There is no clear answer as to how creativity works. In 1926, an English psychologist named Graham Wallas managed to provide insight into the phenomenon. According to Wallas, there are four stages of the creative process—preparation, incubation, illumination and verification—which can turn a blank page into a fully executed idea. The last step in the process—verification—leads to implementation, or making, the final product. With makerspaces, educators nurture the creative process with open-ended play and exploration, encouraging students to be inventors and innovators.

What is a makerspace?

The concept derives from the term making, which involves a range of creative activities—from computer coding to DIY crafts. In a makerspace, students use a variety of tools to create, invent and tinker. The spaces are typically located in libraries, cafeterias or classrooms and can include complicated tools or simpler materials, such as pipe cleaners, LEGOs and cardboard.

Making is a relatively new trend in education, and there is little research documenting its benefits. However, multiple studies have shown that children learn best through hands-on experiences. When combined with self-directed learning, making encourages students to think creatively to solve problems and build solutions.

How do makerspaces drive creativity?

In a makerspace, students are provided with little or no instruction, and they are encouraged to tap into their curiosity. The informal, open-ended learning environment fosters the creative process, helping students develop key skills, such as critical thinking and resilience. Equipped with tools, raw materials and their imaginations, students can collaborate, design, build and test their ideas in a way that drives innovation.

Creativity plays a crucial role in education. With makerspaces, educators can leverage powerful hands-on learning to foster creativity and develop the inventors and innovators of tomorrow.