Ecsite Makerspace 2019 Recap
In June 2019, makers from all over the world convened at the European network of science centres and museums conference in Copenhagen, Denmark to create the latest edition of the ECSITE makerspace. As usual it was an inspiring time to share ideas, meet new collaborators and share our passion for making and tinkering in museums with the larger field.
This year the conference was hosted by the Experimentarium in their maker studio on the museum floor which allowed us to start with a solid layout, sturdy tables, existing cabinets of curiosity and spaces for tools (all things that we normally have to create from scratch).
And of course we came in a couple days early to change around the space a bit, adding our own look and feel with brown paper, playful examples that we brought from our programs and a unique set of high and low tech materials.
There were some really cool little additions to the environment from a spaghetti eater automata to a updated MAKE traffic light to a playful microbit powered robot on the edge of the trashcan. And of course we googley-eye-bombed lots of the exhibits and displays around the space!
For almost an entire year before the conference, a group of about 15 or 20 makers worked remotely and collaboratively to prepare a collection of hands-on workshops, reflective discussions and informal “meet the makers” sessions where practitioners could meet to chat about practical and pedagogical issues.
To start off the fun on the first day of the conference, we hosted a digital LED fashion session where participants hacked their badges, made light-up wearables and event experimented with circuit playground to add a computational element.
The morning of day two, Shivani, Meie, Liam and May led a session on incorporating everyday materials into makerspace activities including natural elements, LEGO, straws and more.
In the afternoon we had a really awesome guest maker, Daniel Lacey-McDermott aka Captain Credible who showed off his thumper boards (little solenoids controlled by a microbit that can be placed magnetically on different surfaces).
Captain Credible did some impromptu lunch performances and then led a workshop in the afternoon where participants made their own scrappy extensions to the devices.
After the workshop we brought all of the creations downstairs and led a spectacular performance in the double helix stairway lobby at Experimentarium. It was a great example of how involving artists in tinkering and making space in museums can be inspiring, surprising and move workshops to unexpected directions.
On saturday morning, Juanita, Meie and Inka from NEMO and Samar led a workshop about new pathways for tinkering focusing on biological elements that can be integrated to making and tinkering activities.
Throughout the entire conference all three “conversation corner” sessions were packed with people eager to discuss specific makerspace issues or get inspired to start working in this area. The topics for the sessions included “the future of making”, “faciliation challenges” and “contexts for tinkering”.
And this year I think makers were better represented around the entire conference. I led a session about play in museums and sebastian and I collaborated on another session around how to develop green practices for makerspaes. There were many sessions outside the makerspace on issues of research, evaluation, equity and making the case for this type of programs in museums.
As always, it was a magical time to truly collaborate with a group of friends and colleagues with diverse backgrounds and experiences who all have similar interests and values around making and tinkering in museums.
We are already getting started planning for the next iteration of the ecsite makerspace in 2020 in Ljubljana. Please get in touch if you’d like to join us on that adventure where we’ll continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in conferences and museums.