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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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Ed Tech Digest logoWith the rise of maker education and connected learning, parents are presented with a growing number of ways to engage with their children’s learning as they participate in hands-on anywhere, anytime learning opportunities. Since research shows that high-income families outspend—by sevenfold—their low-income counterparts on extracurricular programs, there is a great need for public makerspaces.

This EdTech Digest article, by authors Heather Weiss, of Harvard Family Research Project, and Gregg Behr, of the Grable Foundation, highlights efforts for creating maker spaces in Pittsburgh. One program is MAKESHOP, a makerspace out of the Pittburgh’s Children’s Museum, which was recently featured in HFRP’s SNAPSHOT series. MAKESHOP is closing the gap of access to extracurricular making opportunities through reduced admission for low-income families. By housing public makerspaces in public buildings such as museums, libraries, and community centers, families are able to join a social network of peers and access other public programming. The article also highlights other Pittsburgh maker spaces including Millvale Community Library, Carnegie Mellon University, and Assemble.

The article urges that the creation of public maker spaces, where children and families can learn together, will provide crucial opportunities for increased family involvement in anywhere, anytime learning. This has many benefits to student learning including:

  • Providing a framework for connecting school work with life and community beyond campus,
  • Increasing parental support which results in children pursuing and maintaining focus on new projects, and
  • Creating an accessible and fun pathway to connected learning for families.

Read Making Learning Fun in EdTech Digest.

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project