Children's Museum

Currently Closed

Oct. 22 Marks First Anniversary of MAKESHOP™

PITTSBURGH (October 18,  2012) - On October 22, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh will celebrate the first anniversary of MAKESHOP, a “maker” space devoted to informal hands-on learning using both new and old technologies.

MAKESHOP is a partnership of Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh with Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out of School Environments (UPCLOSE), organizations that specialize specializing in design and informal learning.

In 1800 square feet within the Museum near its main entrance, MAKESHOP’s numerous activity stations encourage a range of activities from low-tech woodworking and sewing to high-tech circuitry and animation, with a variety of combinations in between. Children may find themselves sewing LED bracelets or assembling robots using DC motors.

MAKESHOP is designed to allow both self-directed and guided making experiences.  “We always have at least three or four staff members in the space,” explains Director of Learning and Research Lisa Brahms. “These are experts in the different materials and media of MAKESHOP who can give as much or as little direction as needed, while applying any necessary safety precautions.”

Many staff members are interns or degree holders from one of the Museum’s partners. “They have tons of ideas bout how to educate kids and what they can do with kids to keep it new and fresh,” says Children’s Museum Executive Director Jane Werner.

At the same time, very often a parent becomes the guide in a making activity. “We’re really aiming for co-learning or co-activity with the parents as well,” Brahms says.

Beyond the Museum’s traditional core audience of children under eight, MAKESHOP emphasizes visitors eight and older, with certain specialized workshops for middle and high-school students. Indeed, since MAKESHOP has been open, the numbers, frequency of visits, and length of time spent in the space of older children have all increased.

In its first year, MAKESHOP has become what Wired magazine has called “an incredibly nurturing, exploratory experience for everyone involved.”  Says Werner. “We always keep the things that are most precious to us in our museums. We wanted to see what happens when the thing most precious to us are the interactions between people.”

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