Topic 9: Constructionism and the Maker Movement

Piaget proclaimed that every classroom needs to be place where knowledge is a consequence of experience (Martinez & Stager, 2014). Since Piaget’s constructivism focused more on the mental processes of learners, Papert went forth upon a core belief that learning is maximised by ‘doing’ real-world inventions (Donaldson, 2014).

The rebirth of constructionism – the Maker Movement (Donaldson, 2014)

Papert’s constructionism closely aligns with learning in makerspaces (Bower et al., 2018). Makerspace is a learning space where ‘making’ by learners occurs. It is an environment that nurtures 21st century capabilities, such as critical thinking, problem solving, creative thinking, and collaboration (Bower et al., 2020). It also allows students to become multiliterates (Makerspaces Australia, n.d.).

Several semiotic systems can be found in an active makerspace (CC BY Makerspaces Australia, n.d.)

Teachers and students with maker mindsets can greatly benefit from maker-based education (Dougherty, 2013). Students in makerspaces graduate from passive learners to real-world makers of knowledge, for example, in a mathematics classroom students in makerspaces become mathematicians (Martinez & Stager, 2014).

Making is diverse in every community. It usually incorporates everyday items, such as paddle-pop sticks or Play-Do. Besides traditional arts-and-crafts, maker-based learning incorporates digital technologies, which reflects Papert’s metaphor of using computer as a material (Martinez & Stager, 2014).

In technology-oriented makerspaces, a special purpose computer called embedded system is used. Normally embedded in washing machines, fridges, etc. – it has advanced to educational use (Martinez & Stager, 2014). The following digital constructionist tools foster novel opportunities for creativity due to faster prototyping (Dougherty, 2013).

Development boards:

The key to Maker Movement is accessibility (Martinez & Stager, 2014). Micro:Bit is a common development board that can be used to reach remote learners (Micro:Bit, n.d.)

Introduction to Micro:bit (CC BY Micro:bit Educational Foundation)

3D design and printing:

Designing a box with a lid on TinkerCAD

Designing a maze for a Maths lesson on Makers Empire 3D

3D printing provides complete ownership because you can ‘own’ your creation.


Students often take electronics for granted and thus know little about this phenomenon that shapes our lives (Martinez & Stager, 2014). The following electronics can help them learn the basics during the making process.


Circuit stickers are used to create light-up popup books (CC BY Chibitronics)

Squishy Circuits

Play-Do is used to make electrified sculptures (CC BY Squishy Circuits)

MaKey MaKey

Make sounds using everyday objects (CC BY Vat19)

Every classroom can be a makerspace where students are supported to learn by doing. Educators can pursue ongoing learning in this area as the Maker Movement is rapidly developing (Bower et al., 2020).


Bower, M., Stevenson, M., Falloon, G., Forbes, A., & Hatzigianni, M. (2018). Makerspaces in primary school settings: Advancing 21st century and STEM capabilities using 3D design and 3D printing. Sydney, Australia: Macquarie University. Available at:

Bower, M., Stevenson, M., Forbes, A., Falloon, G., & Hatzigianni, M. (2020). Makerspaces pedagogy – supports and constraints during 3D design and 3D printing activities in primary schools. Educational Media International, 57(1), 1-28. doi:10.1080/09523987.2020.1744845

Donaldson, J. P. (2014, January 23). The maker movement and the rebirth of constructionism. Hybrid Pedagogy.

Dougherty, D. (2013). The maker mindset. In M. Honey & D. E. Kanter (Eds.), Design, make, play: Growing the next generation of STEM innovators (1st ed., pp. 7-11). Routledge; Tayler & Francis. doi:10.4324/9780203108352

Makerspaces Australia. (n.d.). Multiliteracies in makerspaces.

Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. S. (2014). The maker movement: A learning revolution. Learning and Leading with Technology, 41(7), 12-17.

Micro:bit. (n.d.). Supporting you with remote teaching.


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