The advent of affordable fabrication technologies such as 3D desktop printers and programmable microcontrollers (such as the Arduino microcontroller) have fueled a maker movement. The American Association of Engineering Education (ASEE 2016) described the maker movement as a growing community of creative individuals spanning a broad range of skills and technical backgrounds. A maker is someone who has a do-it-yourself mindset and might identify as an engineer, designer, tinkerer, artist, or another creative identity. Makerspaces are physical locations equipped to facilitate the growth of the maker movement and have garnered attention from the educational community (Peppler, Halverson, and Kafai 2016).
The current maker movement can be traced to the founding of Make magazine in 2005. The publisher, Dale Daugherty, subsequently organized Maker Faires to celebrate maker culture. Just as in a previous generation Computer Faires gave birth to the personal computing movement, Maker Faires have provided makers with a venue to share maker techniques and showcase their work. The first makerspaces were established during this era. These facilities for making were established in community spaces, libraries, and schools.
Makerspaces introduce the technological tools used to design and build physical objects; use of the tools creates experiences that contribute to understanding of how objects work (National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2018). The prevalence of makerspaces in schools has given rise to maker education. The maker pedagogy employs making as a framework for learning. The availability of makerspaces in schools has encouraged teachers to explore instructional strategies that incorporate making in some form.
Maker education, in contrast to many pedagogical methods that originated in academic settings, began as a grassroots movement. However, the pedagogy of maker education has connections to longstanding areas of academic research, such as project-based and problemme-based learning, contextualized learning, and design thinking. It also has specific connections to areas of engineering education that include mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science. From that perspective, the roots of maker education can be traced to the origins of these disciplines.