History in the Making: Case Study of a Makerspace in a Historical Institution
Makerspaces exist in public and private institutions as informal spaces where participants create tools to solve problems. Generally, makerspaces focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and as a result, tend to be installed more frequently in science-related institutions (e.g. science centres). Historical institutions on the other hand, have not been afforded the same opportunity. The purpose of this case study was to describe how a makerspace functions as a learning space in a historical institution. To develop a holistic understanding of the participants’ experiences within the makerspace, a descriptive explanatory single case study is presented in this paper. This addresses the research questions: 1) How do participants describe their experiences with the program?; 2) When participants partake in the makerspace environment, what does their behaviour look like?; and 3) What do participants describe as their learning gains? The findings suggest that makerspaces in historical institutions allow for positive social behaviours, and learning gains, but they do not show significant historical learning gains. These findings are discussed by comparing what the literature suggested would occur when a makerspace was brought into a museum to the results from the study. Future research needs to explore what program elements would be beneficial in creating a stronger tie between history through making activities.