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‘Learning to make, and making to learn’: A tour of the Stanford GSE Makery

Door sign saying "GSE Makery"
Campus Life | Curriculum and Instruction | Innovation

‘Learning to make, and making to learn’: A tour of the Stanford GSE Makery

A new studio for students and faculty provides high- and low-tech tools for educational discovery and design.

A new studio space for hands-on learning has opened its doors at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education (GSE)—and all students and faculty are welcome, no experience required.

The GSE Makery was created for anyone at the school to explore the possibilities of learning through making. The studio offers an array of high- and low-tech devices and supplies, including hot glue guns and sewing machines, woodworking tools and soldering irons, laser cutters and 3D printers.

“We’re working to make it as welcoming and inclusive as possible,” said Karin Forssell, MA ’92, PhD ’11, director of the GSE Makery. “We want to break down the barriers for people with different levels of expertise to design and tinker.” 

The GSE Makery joins a number of other makerspaces on campus, including those affiliated with the School of Engineering, the Hasso Platner Institute of Design (the d.school) and the Department of Art and Art History. Bringing a makerspace to the GSE offers a unique opportunity to study the impact on teaching and learning.

“There’s a lot we can explore about how and what people learn when they’re engaged in making something physical,” said Forssell, who is also a lecturer at the GSE and directs the Learning, Design & Technology master’s program. “We can ask questions like, ‘How does a creative challenge change the learning experience?’ or ‘How can students demonstrate knowledge through physical objects?’ Also, as educators, what can we invent to help students learn?”

Because the GSE prepares teachers to work in schools that increasingly have their own makerspaces, she added, it’s become important for them to develop the skills and confidence to take advantage of the spaces’ potential.

“We want them to understand the tools and how to use them to support their students’ learning in all sorts of classrooms,” Forssell said.

The GSE Makery wasn’t built from scratch; the space previously housed a faculty lab where students researched and developed tools for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Renovated with additional machines and now open to a wider audience, Forssell hopes students and faculty will use the studio to teach lessons, collaborate on projects and discover new research interests.

“It’s a place where people can learn to make, and make to learn,” she said.   

The Makery is located on the first floor of the Center for Educational Research at Stanford (CERAS) at 520 Galvez Mall.

All photographs by Holly Hernandez (except photo of Eileen Rivera, taken by Tom James)

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