Making Spaces Project

Making Spaces Project

Makerspaces have the potential to build communities, foster empowerment, and shape sustainable and equitable futures. They also offer valuable opportunities to help tackle the underrepresentation of marginalised groups in engineering, science and technology. Despite the maker movement’s commitment to values of democracy and accessibility, however, in practice many makerspaces still predominantly reflect the traditional, White, male, middle class STEM demographic, and experience similar barriers to access and retention as the wider engineering and technology sector. 

The Making Spaces Project is led by Professor Louise Archer (UCL IoE), funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, and is undertaken in collaboration with three UK-based makerspaces: the Institute of Making (London), Knowle West Media Centre (Bristol), and MadLab (Manchester). This project seeks to identify and encourage equitable practices in makerspaces, whilst empowering young people from underserved communities to engage with, and enrich, these shared spaces.

Over the course of two years, we aim to create and refine robust, bespoke programmes to support young people’s engagement with makerspaces, and to provide playful and safe environments for engineering and tech-based skills to be learnt through making. In doing so we aim to give young people agency and positively broaden their life chances, whilst also addressing widespread concerns about global skills shortages in STEM.

This project also meets an urgent need to robustly identify effective pedagogy and practices for supporting underserved communities. Once these models of good practice have been identified, we aim to create mechanisms for spreading and embedding them widely, with the aim of making makerspaces more equitable places.

The four core aims of the project are: 

  1. To generate new knowledge and an evidence base for promoting STEM participation amongst unsupported communities. 
  2. To widen participation in STEM for unsupported communities, thus contributing to addressing a long standing, global STEM participation challenge. 
  3. To improve the educational and occupational outcomes of young people from unsupported communities, which will both help address global STEM skills gaps and advance social justice.
  4. To support innovation among young people from unsupported communities, thus supporting societal advancement and potentially accelerating the uptake of new technology.


This research is funded by:

Making Spaces Project