About the project

The Makerspaces in Primary School Settings project was a research collaboration between three education-based organisations investigating makerspaces in Kindergarten to Year 2 (K-2) settings. Makers Empire – an Australian-based education technology company behind the development a 3D design and printing platform – provided a blended professional learning program to teachers from three NSW Department of Education primary schools in the Greater Sydney metropolitan area. Participating teachers and their students were also given access to the company’s 3D design software (the Makers Empire 3D app), which was installed on school-provided iPads and used with newly-purchased 3D printers. Teachers designed and delivered units of work in the Makers Empire Teacher Dashboard, integrating both offline

maker activities with physical materials, and online activities with the available technologies. Throughout the professional learning program, learning implementation, and post-implementation evaluation, a research team from Macquarie University examined teachers’ and students’ participation and perceptions to address 6 research questions:

  1. What do students learn when undertaking maker activities?
  2. How do maker activities using 3D technology impact on students’ design thinking skills? 
  3. What supports and constrains learning in maker activities?
  4. How do maker activities using 3D technology influence student motivation, engagement, self-efficacy and future intentions?
  5. How can teacher capacity to embed design thinking processes through maker-based pedagogies be developed through blended professional learning?
  6. How can teachers be best supported to develop their maker pedagogical capabilities?

Nine data sources were analysed and triangulated in order to address the research questions, including (1) a pre-professional learning questionnaire; (2) researcher observations of professional learning; (3) a post- professional learning questionnaire; (4) researcher observations of lessons; (5) recordings of student iPad activity and discussions; (6) teacher reflective journals; (7) student focus group interviews; (8) teacher focus group interviews; and (9) a post-implementation questionnaire. The Makerspaces in Primary School Settings report details the context, methods, analysis, and results of the study. The report is available in two forms – a full report, and an abridged version that only contains the abstract and executive summary.

About the schools 

Three School Logos

Carlingford West Public School, Oatlands Public School and Parramatta East Public School are NSW Department of Education schools that participate in a collaborative hub. Their hub school network is designed to lead and disseminate innovation within the school system. All three schools had an executive team that was ready to lead innovation and change, along with staff who volunteered to participate in the project. The campus for each school was equipped with access to the NSW Department of Education Wi- Fi network, and had sets of iPads that could be shared amongst students and classes for the purposes of the study.

About Makers Empire


Makers Empire is an Australian-based education technology company that helps K-8 educators harness the power of 3D technology to teach STEM concepts, design thinking and 21st century learning skills. Makers Empire 3D for Schools is a 3D design and printing platform that comprises the Makers Empire 3D app and Makers Empire Teacher Dashboard for class management and access to curriculum. Makers Empire also offers a 20-hour Learning by Design blended professional learning program that supports teachers to integrate 3D technology using pedagogies that develop and enhance students’ critical, creative, design thinking and STEM skills. The Makers Empire 3D app is used by hundreds of thousands of students in Australia, America, Asia and Europe every day. Given their common interests in understanding how pedagogically optimise 3D design and printing activities in schools, the two entities partnered together in this research project.

About the Research Team


Dr Matt BowerMatt Bower is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at Macquarie University who focuses on how contemporary technologies can be used to advance learning. He is particularly interested in how innovative technologies such as augmented reality, Web 2.0 tools, virtual worlds, social networking, virtual reality and so on can be most effectively used to support cognitive development and collaborative learning. Matt has over eighty peer-reviewed publications in the area of technology-enhanced learning design, teacher education, and computing education. He has led several funded grant projects and participated in many other research initiatives (total funding exceeds $1M). He has delivered numerous keynote and invited speaker presentations on topics such as augmented reality, blended-synchronous learning and learning design.  For more details about Matt’s research and portfolio, see: https://researchers.mq.edu.au/en/persons/matt-bower
Photo of Garry FalloonGarry Falloon is a Profesor of Digital Learning and Internationalisation Lead in the Department of Educational Studies, having joined Macquarie University in July 2017. Previous to this he was Professor of Digital Learning in the Faculty of Education at Waikato University in Hamilton, New Zealand. Garry’s research interests include mobile learning, digital learning in primary and middle schools, online and blended learning, curriculum design, pedagogy and assessment in digitally-supported innovative learning environments, learning in primary science and technology, and educational research methods. He has served on many advisory and writing panels for eLearning policy and curriculum development, industry and sector advisory boards, and the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Panel of Experts for Digital Learning. He serves on the Editorial Boards of four international journals in Educational Psychology and Educational Technologies, and is a regular article reviewer for twelve other publications. He is also the recipient of research and teaching awards from the University of Waikato, Microsoft and the New Zealand Government. For more details about Garry’s research and portfolio, see: https://researchers.mq.edu.au/en/persons/garry-falloon
Photo of Anne ForbesAnne Forbes is a Senior Lecturer in STEM Education who specialises in Science and Design Technology in Early Childhood and Primary school settings. She is currently teaching in a range of units in pre-service teacher education and also conducts accredited in-service teacher professional learning to enthuse, inform and inspire learning and teaching through science education. Anne’s primary area of research is in ways to advance the teaching and learning of science education in schools, particularly the development of communities of science practice.  Her PhD investigated participants’ views of their participation in a program named MyScience, which has directly resulted in five peer-reviewed publications in quality research journals. Anne is also interested in researching gender effects in STEM education, and participation effects in ‘maker spaces’. For more details about Anne’s research and portfolio, see: https://researchers.mq.edu.au/en/persons/anne-forbes
Maria.JPGMaria Hatzigianni is a Lecturer in Digital Technologies and early years of education and also in History and Philosophy of Early Childhood Education. She is currently researching the use of digital technologies by very young children (0-3). Maria’s primary area of research examines the use of technology by young children. She is especially interested in the associations between the use of digital technologies and young children’s social-emotional development and/or creativity. She is also interested in the philosophy of technology, critical and postmodern theories and the use of technology in early years. Maria is also interested in multicultural and bilingual Education and social justice in Education. For more details about Maria’s research and portfolio, see: https://researchers.mq.edu.au/en/persons/maria-hatzigianni
profile-july-2016.jpgMichael Stevenson is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University. Since commencing his teaching career in 2001, he has taught English, ESL, Music and Technology in secondary schools across northern and western Sydney. In addition to teaching, he worked as a school leader in technology integration and strategic planning, advising in the implementation of learning management systems, 1-1 programs and ICT-curriculum alignment.  As a researcher, Michael has worked on a range of technology-related research projects with Education Services Australia, the Australian Independent Schools Network, and the NSW Department of Education. For more details about Michael’s research and portfolio, see: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3720-1888