Spring 2024

In this issue

Welcome to our Spring Newsletter

Hello from a busy Maker{Futures} team in what has been a flying start to 2024. We are bringing you a quick summary of recent maker events, news about our Maker{School} programme, CPD opportunities, Collective meetings and a preview of some of the exciting things coming up over the next few months. 

Last week we enjoyed some April showers on a visit to the Royal Academy of Engineering in London. We were invited to celebrate the completion of our Ingenious Award project - Flying Futures and meet the new awardees for this year. We managed to find time pop into the Young V&A to see some inspirational design and games.

Event Highlights

Festival of Social Science - Making Connections 

In October we were at Weston Park Museum with our 'Making Connections' interactive family makerspace, exploring connections through creative crafting, coding and textiles. This drop-in workshop took place at half-term and was part of the 2023 Festival of Social Sciences.

Co-led by Dr Alison Buxton and Dr Jessica Bradley and with project partner The Art House in Wakefield and guest artists Toni Buckby and Ranya Abdulateef, the activities were inspired by NHS Hospitals Together research looking at using textiles in post pandemic recovery. 

Families enjoyed digital embroidery, sew-able electronics, weaving, printing and working with e-textiles. We invited them to photograph their creations and help us build a gallery wall of 'connections'

Dreams of Time and Space

In November the Maker{Futures} team collaborated with Dr Angela Colvert to plan and deliver Dreams of Time and Space (DOTS). DOTS was an exciting whole school immersive maker day in which the children worked together to design, experiment and create and get Ada Lovelace unstuck from her dreams! Thank you to the brilliant staff and pupils at St Joseph's Catholic Academy in Handsworth. If your school is interested in planning a whole school maker event get in touch.

FabLearn Dialogues - Netherlands

We enjoyed even more rain in the Netherlands at FabLearn Dialogues exploring how we can create space for “learning by making” with insights, inspiration and activities from international maker education practitioners. On the final day we were invited into primary schools in Arnhem, to collaborate on maker activities. What a great experience! 

Nottingham Festival of Science & Curiosity

We were delighted to be invited to be part of the Nottingham Festival of Science & Curiosity. During February half-term we set up our mobile makerspace at Bassetlaw Muesum in Retford and the Bridge Skills Hub in Worksop. Our activities explored electricity, power and energy and we were joined by brilliant student ambassadors from North Notts College. If you would like to volunteer with Maker{Futures} we'd love to heard from you - more details below.

British Science Week 2024

Over 750 children tinkered, tested and tried new things in our mobile makerspace during this year's science week in March. We visited High Hazels Academy in Sheffield and Grange Lane Infant Academy in Doncaster and we were lucky to be joined by some VIP volunteers - Emeritus Professor Jackie Marsh and Professor Anna Beresin, visiting from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. 

Grange Lane Infant Academy are also working towards their Bronze Maker{School} award and school staff took part in our twilight training 'Introduction to Maker{School}'. We are looking forward to seeing them again for an INSET day in September. More about Maker{School} below.

Introducing STEAM and maker pedagogies for early childhood educators in Indonesia

A webinar in mid-March was the culmination of a collaborative capacity-building program between the University of Sheffield and Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia (UPI), Purwakarta. 'STEAM-ECE: Developing a STEAM Approach for Early Childhood Education in Indonesia' focused on equipping pre-service early childhood teachers in Indonesia with the essential knowledge, skills, and mindsets to effectively teach STEAM subjects to young children.

Dr Louise Kay and Dr Alison Buxton from the Maker{Futures} team joined Dr Finita Dewi and Dr Suci Putri to present detailed insights into the project and its impact on teaching practices and children’s outcomes in participating Indonesian schools.

Maker{Move}  - our new hybrid mobile makerspace

You may have seen our new hybrid mobile makerspace out and about on visits to schools, libraries, museums and community spaces! 

Why not book a visit from us. Try out a taster day with everything from woodwork to coding and robots, or a themed workshop to complement an exhibition or the topics you are covering in school.

Thank you to the brilliant volunteers and STEM Ambassadors that join us at these events and help children get the most out of the activities.

Snap Circuits at Nook Lane 
Christmas activities at Charnock Hall
STEM Ambassador volunteers 
Weaving at St Theresa's


Launched last year, the Maker{School} programme is growing fast and we are welcoming new schools every month. Maker{School} provides opportunities for children and teachers in primary and early years settings and special schools to develop the skills, knowledge and mindsets for future success - inspiring creators, innovators and problem solvers. 

Schools are recognised through bronze, silver and gold Maker{School} Awards - a structured approach which supports schools to develop their maker-centred learning. There's a limited number of bursaries available to help schools get started. Apply online.

Teachers can also join the Maker{School} Collective - a supportive and inspiring community of teachers. Have a look at the upcoming meetings below.

Whatever skills, experience or equipment you have, you can get started with Maker{School}! Find out more on our website.

Highlights from the launch event

So far this year the team have been busy delivering INSET days, twilight sessions, listening, planning and helping to prepare and deliver active learning within our maker schools. 

The Year 4 class at St Joseph's Catholic Academy invited us to take part in their rainforest project  - an exciting blend of science, geography and literacy. The Maker{Futures} team helped the children explore TinkerCAD, enabling them to design their own 3D printed animals. They explored the immersive world of the Borneo rainforest through the WWF VR app and finally the children used Co-spaces to create an interactive story, bringing together everything they had learnt. 

Y4 VR Borneo experience

Y4 TinkerCAD animal

We were excited to join Seven Hills, a special school in Sheffield, for their 'Reuse, Recycle, Reduce' project. This was a fun day full of tinkering and testing inspired by the story “The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle”. The cardboard construction and electronics skills they learnt in our workshops were used to tell the next chapter of the story - turning their recycling waste into new creations!

CPD and Training

Launched this year our new two day courses for teachers -  'Getting started with Maker{School}' - include of a variety of skill builder workshops ranging from woodwork to micro:bit, cardboard construction to TinkerCAD and so much more. There's two options - KS2 and KS1/EYFS.

Many of our team have an educational background so we understand the need to build in plenty of time for discussion, sharing practice and support for project planning. So far this year we have been joined by many of our Maker{School} teachers and we have been amazed by the dedication and enthusiasm that they have shown in wanting to adopt a maker mindset. 

We also offer twilight training, INSET days and online courses for teachers and other educators. Find out more about our CPD opportunities and book online.

"I learned new skills that will be useful every day at school"

"we were able to share ideas with each other and have fun experimenting with different types of skill building. It felt like we were learning things that were transferable to the classroom and children"

Digital literacies - Merge Cube AR
Skill building
Materials and tools - woodwork
Electronics and coding


The Maker{School} Collective is a supportive and inspiring community of teachers interested in all things 'maker'. It is a chance for colleagues to ask questions, share ideas and influence the future direction of Maker{School} - plus grab a bite to eat! 

Thursday 6th June - micro:bit

Where: University of Sheffield Campus

Due to popular demand we're running another session exploring hands-on activities with micro:bit. We will be sharing ideas for how to use them and how they might link to what you are already doing in the classroom. Bring your laptops and micro:bits along to the session! 

Free - book online

We're planning more Collectives for the next school year. To keep up to date and book your place at upcoming sessions, join the Collective by completing our short online form.

Coming up...

Maker{Futures} down under

Liz is currently in Australia working alongside Dr Louise Kay. Hosted by the Australian Research Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child they will be working in Edith Cowan University, Perth and QUT in Brisbane, engaging staff and teachers using cardboard construction, simple electronics and robotics. 

This week they are visiting Deception Bay State School in Brisbane which serves a diverse, multicultural community. They will deliver team building workshops for Year 5 and 6 children focusing on future aspirational careers, and staff training in Maker{School} pedagogies.

One of the main focuses of their trip is to work with teachers from the Association of Independent Schools, Western Australia to deliver maker education that fosters inclusivity, accessibility and equitable opportunities for everyone. This will advocate and support strong opportunities for young people's success across the state.

To aid the research for this initiative, Liz and Louise spent three days in Purnululu Aboriginal Independent Community School. The provocation for the maker workshop was a Gija Dreaming Story.  The skills of cardboard construction, electronics and stop motion animation were used to collaboratively share stories from their unique, rich cultural and linguistic background. 

You can follow their journey @Maker_Futures.

Maker{School} Skills Library 

The team has been chipping away at creating a special online resource for our wonderful Maker{School} staff and children. This skills library will consist of a variety of resources ranging from videos to use in the classroom to instructions and inspirational maker websites. We would like to welcome Xiaoyu Feng who has successfully gained an internship with Maker{Futures} to help us create and edit some brand new videos. Watch this space...

Once upon a time - May Fayre at Weston Park

Sunday 19th May 2024

Join us at Weston Park in May to explore how traditional tales and home languages are woven into our identities. "Once upon a time" is a multilingual and digital storytelling workshop where families will be encouraged to bring their own languages to the story.

We'll be finding out how to create and share these stories through interactive digital animations using the OctoStudio app.

The workshop is suitable for all ages, especially multilingual families with children up to 12 years old. The workshops are free but booking is required. Keep an eye on our website and social media for more details.

3D Art workshop with Darrell Wakelam (for educators) 

Friday 21st June 2024, 10-4

Join us at Weston Park Museum for a full day workshop exploring 3D techniques using cardboard and other simple materials. Create artwork that is accessible, affordable, and adaptable. Gain the skills, confidence and inspiration to incorporate 3D art into your teaching practice. 

The workshop is £50 plus VAT per person and limited to two places per school. One place is included free of charge with a bronze and silver Maker{School} award bursary. 

Contact us to find out more or book a place online. Find out more about Darrell Wakelam.

Maker{School} INSET days

Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd September 2024

Learn how making can support the acquisition of knowledge and development of skills in all subject areas. Find out how the Maker{School} approach harnesses your existing curriculum to inspire creators, innovators and problem solvers.

The day will be tailored for your school, whether you are newly registered or already working towards your bronze, silver or gold award. 

There are two dates available: 2nd or 3rd September 2024. The event is free - contact us to find out more or register your interest online.

If you are interested in booking a whole school INSET day but the September 2024 dates don't work for your school, please get in touch to discuss arranging an alternative date for 2024/25 or 2025/26.

International network event

In June we are looking forward to welcoming visitors from Nigeria, Italy, Pakistan, Indonesia and Canada to the University of Sheffield. This two day event will build on our international network and is a great opportunity to share the latest research in maker education.

Get involved

Do you want to inspire the future generation of innovators? We are looking for volunteers to support our workshops in primary schools, libraries and museums. Check out our volunteer pages. We’d love to hear from you! 

You can contact the Maker{Futures} team at and keep up to date using the links below.