Kickstarting Making in Schools

Educators across the country are exploring making and the ways in which learning experiences inspire engagement, creativity, persistence, and entrepreneurship in learners of all ages.

In 2015, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh collaborated with Kickstarter, the online crowdfunding platform, to develop a national model to use Kickstarter campaigns to raise funds to launch school-based makerspaces.

This was a new framework for partnership that seeks to create avenues for schools to learn more about making, interact with community partners, and raise necessary funds to create learning experiences that inspire the next generation of innovators.

The Children’s Museum and Kickstarter worked with a group of ten geographically and population diverse schools in the Pittsburgh region, including: Monessen Elementary Center, Cecil Intermediate School, Pittsburgh Public Lincoln PK-5, Woodland Hills Intermediate Center, Burgettstown Area School District, Ligonier Valley School District, Falk Laboratory School, Kiski Area Upper Elementary School, Environmental Charter School and Yeshiva Schools.

Over Summer 2015, Museum and Kickstarter experts worked closely with the ten schools to design their month-long Kickstarter campaigns, which launched in late September 2015. Funds raised were targeted for professional development, makerspace design services, and equipment, materials and furniture. The aim was for each school to reach their fundraising goal to move forward with the Museum partnership, including curricular design sessions and professional development workshops, allowing more schools in the region access to high-quality maker education and the Museum an opportunity to scale its work with schools.

Through these efforts, seven out of the ten schools reached their funding goal, raising over $108,000 from 500 donors to spur the creation of seven new school-based makerspaces.

To build on this success and scale and share the crowdfunding model nationwide, the Children’s Museum partnered with Google and Maker Ed in 2016 to launch the Making Spaces program.  At least nine sites will serve as crowdfunding hubs and work with at least five schools each to test the tools and launch crowdfunding campaigns to raise funds from their own communities to create in-school makerspaces across the country.  Learn more here.

  • Integrating Making: Ideas and Advice

    Explore these resources for project ideas, inspiration, advice on implementation and more.


    Read special posts by local teachers and administrators detailing how they are integrating making at their schools:

    Unleash the Parent Makers by Scott Miller, Avonworth Primary Center

    Learn more about the MAKESHOP Principles of Practice in The Learning Practices of Making: An Evolving Framework for Design. Although the Principles were developed for institutions such as museums and libraries, schools will recognize many concepts presented. We are eager to hear your ideas for integrating these practices in new ways at your school.

    Visit Make a Makerspace and the MAKESHOP blog for detailed information about how to conceptualize a makerspace, including specific information on how to design for early childhood, elementary, and middle and high school learners.

    Read Mobile MAKESHOP: Preliminary Findings from Two School Sites for a short overview of research completed in conjunction with the Museum’s Mobile MAKESHOP initiative. Themes explored include the role of school leadership, space and the ways making was integrated into students’ learning opportunities.

    Watch Why Make? To Learn through Doing and be inspired to consider the learning process over the end product.

    The Maker Education Initiative Resource Library has a rich collection of maker-related resources, including information about getting started, tools and equipment, space design, facilitation guides, examples of learning activities and more.

    We are champions of making but it is essential to think critically about what we do. The Maker Movement Gets a Dose of Critique summarizes some necessary reflections about the movement.

  • Crowdfunding Resources

    The Kickstarter Creator Handbook offers a comprehensive overview of developing a crowdfunding campaign, including how to get started, conceptualize your story, and promotion.