Young children's design thinking skills in makerspaces

Maria Hatzigianni*, Michael Stevenson, Garry Falloon, Matt Bower, Anne Forbes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The maker movement, expansion of makerspaces in schools and design activities utilising 3D apps and 3D printing technologies, allow educators to foster creativity through play and experimentation. However, little research exists to inform practice in makerspaces, particularly with young children, under eight years of age. This study adopted constructivist-referred methodology and examined how thirty-four children from Kindergarten to Grade 2 classrooms (5–8 year olds, three classrooms) designed and printed 3D objects using tablet devices, 3D printers, physical materials and IDEO’s five-stage design thinking model. Primary data comprised video screen recordings from separate episodes of pairs of children working together. Across the 16 h of analysed video, different manifestations of design thinking were observed. A range of makerspaces activities invoked creative, critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making skills, aligning with the IDEO design process. This study opens a powerful new door to rich learning potential for young children engaging in maker activities, and paves the way for teachers of young children to explore innovative approaches such as a design thinking, in their everyday practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100216
JournalInternational Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
Early online date28 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Nov 2020


  • makerspaces
  • maker movement
  • design thinking
  • IDEO
  • 3D design
  • 3D printing
  • creativity
  • problem-solving
  • early childhood

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