Pop Up MakerSpaces: Learning2 Europe

At Learning2 Europe, hosted by AS Milan, April 2016, I led a pre conference workshop entitled, Pop Up MakerSpaces and sought to create the conditions for invention where participants were engaged in active constructing, in our case, initially a scribble machine.

Seymour Papert developed the principles of constructionism in educational contexts building on the work of Piaget’s constructivist approach.

Papert wrote in 1991:

“Constructionism shares constructivism’s connotation of learning as ‘building knowledge structures’ irrespective of the circumstances of the learning. It then adds the idea that this happens especially felicitously in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity, whether it’s a sand castle on the beach or a theory of the universe.”

src: Seymour Papert’s Legacy: Thinking About Learning, and Learning About Thinking

“The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.”

Seymour Papert

The idea for the workshop was born out of frustrations from too many conferences where the theme has been about reimagining learning but unfortunately the format of the conference involved too many slide and sitting for long periods of time. I wanted to create a learning experience where the focus was on making, modelling the concepts and ideas. I wanted immediate engagement in creating something of meaning where conversations and ideas could spread around a tinker table.

Creating the necessary conditions was essential to the success, here are a few ‘Pop Up MakerSpace’ tips:

  1. Space: design the space to encourage conversation and allow movement (don’t be confined to one room)
  2. Tinker Table: Draw out a ‘tinker table’ to organise resources, how to guides and at least three ready to go ‘makes’- parcel paper works well.
  3. Invite curiosity: show maker projects in action to invite wonderment and curiosity into the space- I used tape as my medium, alongside a Thymio robot on a message loop.
  4. Serendipity: leave engagements open ended to allow for unexpected moments of magic and build on them.
  5. Remix: plan engagements that are remix-able, where one make can be connected to another or be reimagined into something new. Ask the question,  What if we…?
  6. Capture: innovate with new and existing media to capture the learning and make your thinking visible.

In the pre conference information, I made a call for Guerrilla technologists to take the ideas from the workshop into the conference. The Pop Up makers did just that.

They built a Scribble Bot gallery in the library, asked the conference screen to create a cinematic Pacman, dance mat experience which evolved into a pop up student workshop.

Spontaneous making happened throughout the conference, during un conference moments  and was complimented by a superbly crafted workshop schedule, the highlight being the student led workshops.

Students were user testing our ‘makes’ and particularly impressive was the awesome advise they gave to our experience designer and, unprompted, used the target question,

‘What if we…?

PopUp MakerSpaces: Learning2 Europe



Check out the Flickr album, Pop Up MakerSpace for more photos




After celebrating our successes with our scribble machines, we used Paper by 53 to annotate beautifying ideas to our design leading to thinking about the process.

Using a prototype of a thinking routine created for Genius Hour and developed from ideas discovered whilst watching the 2014 edition of The Royal Institute Christmas Lectures- Sparks will fly: How to hack your home where Professor Danielle George explores how the spark of your imagination and some twenty first century tinkering can change the world.  Danielle used the approach to break problems down into achievable steps in order to make an office block a gaming screen!


Here are the provocations from the workshop and the Storify Story

Mini Workshops

After a mini workshop on Makey Makey, we invented our own game controllers or…

Having the freedom and space to invent allowed for participants to learn and tinker and follow their own direction and interest. From Scratch programming to musical instrument creation.
Untitled Busy building the dance mat game controller.

Breaking our into the library


So what was #inmybag

Did I use everything? Here’s breakdown with links- see the scribble bot graveyard below.


 Coming soon: Pop Up MakerSpaces 2.0

  • The take home mini kit
  • Bring your own Make: from pre conference workshop to Extended session, un-conference and beyond
  • Make your own conference swag
  • Pimp your badge
  • More Learning2 reflections

AS Milan student Makey Makey Dance Mat



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