Reimagining Systems for Learning Hands-on Creative and Maker Skills

We invited projects and research ideas with contributions towards the systems for learning creative and maker skills, design of learning environments, novel ways of sensing and measuring learning in maker spaces, and supporting the experience of learning in maker spaces.

Corresponding Authors and Submissions (In no particular order)

All accepted papers: Link

Supporting Algorithms and Aesthetics in Computational Making

Designers interact with digital representations of objects in two different ways. With direct manipulation, the designer transforms an object by clicking and dragging on the canvas with a mouse or other pointing device. With indirect manipulation, the designer writes code that generates the object when the code is executed. Tools often support only one of these manipulation styles, which reinforces the false dichotomy separating artists from programmers and aesthetics from algorithms. In this paper, we present Twoville, a design tool that embraces the two manipulation styles simultaneously. Programmer-artists use both their algorithmic and aesthetic senses in Twoville to create design files for 2D fabrication devices. Edits made in the code editor change the object in the canvas, and edits made in the canvas change the code that produced the object. We describe Twoville and reflect on its learning potential based on our experiences using it with young people in our local community and in our own homes.

Chris Johnson (Associate professor, James Madison University) [he/him/his]

I am a computer science professor at James Madison University in Virginia. My interests are in computer graphics, programming languages, and serving my local community. The theme of the workshop aligns very closely with several projects I have worked on, and I am eager to learn things that will help me shape these projects. Also, I have been reading papers written by several of the organizers and welcome the chance to meet these folks in person.

computational making, direct manipulation, bidirectional editing

Jupyfab: Iteration and Software Engineering Practices in Physical Computing and Fabrication with Jupyter Notebooks

One of the great powers of computer science is manipulating bits representing data; this is done exploratively and iteratively through code, and, in classrooms, often using Jupyter Notebooks. The software engineering practices of students who use such notebooks has been extensively studied, but we are interested in the capabilities they might bring to computer science students as they first step into making physical objects in the fablab: can we leverage this familiar tool to enable new practices in designing for 3D printing or lasercutting, or in programming for embedded devices? How can we embed and encourage both (hopefully-familiar) software engineering practices and the use of (likely less familiar) “lab notebooks” in these students’ hybrid physical/digital practices?

Valkyrie Savage (Assistant professor, University of Copenhagen) [she/her]

I am a newly-minted Assistant Professor at the University of Copenhagen in the Human-Centred Computing Section of the Department of Computer Science, where my research focuses on the intersections of humans, digital fabrication, and sensing. I have previously done research at UC Berkeley (for my PhD) and in Toronto (at a startup called Tactual Labs); I also taught robotics summer camps for a non-profit for a year. For this workshop, I'm interested in how we represent interactive objects in code: 3D models and Arduino are both, in the end, code-driven; I want to better understand how this feature can help us better support students in the makerspace.

Computational notebooks, 3D printing, physical computing, software engineering, modeling, iterative design, lab notebook, teaching

Designing Intelligent Coaching Systems to Support Equitable Engagement in Making

In recent decades, researchers have made tremendous strides on increasing access to makerspaces for underrepresented populations including women, youth, and low income populations. However, even with access to makerspaces, underrepresented makers still are far from achieving full and equitable engagement. Providing underrepresented makers with dedicated coaching is a promising avenue to increase their engagement, but providing coaching is very labor intensive, and there are limited coaching resources in makerspaces. In our preliminary research, we have developed a task model that details the challenges novice makers experience in engaging in makerspaces and strategies coaches employ to support them. Based on this model, we propose the design of an intelligent coaching system that can reduce the amount of time and effort required of coaches and thus scale the number of underrerepresnetd makers coaches can support to improve their equitable engagement in makerspaces.

Evey Huang (Ph.D. student, Northwestern University) [she, her]

I am a 3rd year PhD student at Northwestern University Delta Lab. I design and build intelligent systems that collaborate with human coaches to increase underrepresented learners' engagement and learning when solving ill-defined, real-world problems. I am excited to connect with other researchers in the field, share our preliminary findings on how coaching supports underrepresented learners' engagement, and discuss how we might design technologies to make coaches' job easier and scale high quality coaching.

Intelligent systems, Coaching, Equity, Maker Movement

Positional Control in Node-Based Programming

Visual programming languages enable novices to learn and code with a lowered barrier. There are two popular designs - block-based editing (e.g., Scratch, one can control the execution order of lines of blocks) and node-based editing (e.g., Grasshopper, one can control the data flow through nodes and wires). We propose integrating them by utilizing positional control in node-based programming to see and directly manipulate both the order and data flow. Blocks snap to the grid determining the sequence. A new type of block, effect block, can control other blocks by positional constraints once the others are placed inside its effective range. As relocating a block is easier than wiring that targets tiny inlets and outlets, we endeavor to shorten the feedback loop time and encourage exploration. We present b5, a web-based novel visual interface for creative coding, to demonstrate and evaluate this design.

Peiling Jiang (Ph.D. student, UCSD) [he/him]

Peiling is an incoming Cognitive Science Ph.D. student at UCSD Design Lab. He is interested in building easier-to-use tools and authoring environments to assist people in learning, managing information, and creating. His undergraduate thesis, b5 (, leverages a web-based interface to explore new controls in visual programming. This will be his first CHI and first in-person conference. He looks forward to exploring more about learning in the physical and hands-on context.

Visual Programming, Creative Coding, Tools, Authoring Environments

Supporting Electronics Learning through Augmented Reality

Understanding electronics is a critical area in the maker scene. Many of the makers’ projects require electronics knowledge to connect microcontrollers with sensors and actuators. Yet, learning electronics is challenging, as internal component processes remain invisible, and students often fear personal harm or component damage. Augmented Reality (AR) applications are developed to support electronics learning and visualize complex processes. This paper reflects on related work around AR and electronics that characterize open research challenges around the four characteristics functionality, fidelity, feedback type, and interactivity.

Julian Rasch (Ph.D. student, LMU Munich) [he/him]

Julian Rasch is an HCI Researcher and PhD Student at the Media Informatics Group at LMU Munich. His research focuses on the interaction between humans and digital systems to facilitate and augment this strong collaboration. His research interests include Perception & Interaction in AR/VR, Interaction with AI Systems, Human Augmentation, Virtual Design & Engineering, and Future Applications of AR/VR. Thanks to his background in Electrical Engineering & IT, he has knowledge and experience in hardware prototyping as well as methodological problem-solving

Thomas Kosch (Assistant professor, Utrecht University) [him/his]

I'm interested in how we can create interactive systems that support users cognitively during making and creation of new prototypes..

Sebastian Feger (Research scientist, LMU Munich) [He/him]

I am a computer scientist and UX researcher with strong knowledge in electronics. I enjoy designing smart objects that help support new forms of interaction and learning across a wide range of applications, from supporting the maker community to controlling smart homes. I am excited to brainstorm ideas related to smart objects that support learning maker skills in general and electronics in particular.

Augmented Electronics, Learning, Circuit Engineering

Critical Machine Learning for Young Learners

While the benefits of Machine Learning (ML) remain endlessly promising, concerns around the social and ethical implications of ML have increasingly become a global subject. Although the concepts of ML are being taught in schools at various levels of learning, the ethical and social perspectives are seldom addressed in these learning environments and when addressed, are treated in isolation from ML concepts. In this position paper, we argue for Critical Machine Learning (CML), which is the integration of critical pedagogy and ML education. This critical approach to ML education requires a purposeful integration of the social and ethical perspectives of ML throughout the entire ML program curriculum and not just as constructs to be learned in a module during the beginning or end of an intervention. We describe the design of a CML program using a participatory design research framework that involved elementary aged youth as co-designers and provide examples of how young learners were able to integrate ML content with social, ethical, and political issues. The results of this preliminary study demonstrate that youth can engage in conversations on ethical and social perspectives ML and apply critical lenses when thinking about ML concepts and designing ML machines for social good.

Tolulope Famaye (Ph.D. student, Clemson University) [She/her]

I am a graduate student in the Learning Sciences and a member of the IDEA Lab at Clemson University. I have a background in designing learning environments for physical and virtual learning environments. Working with the idea lab I engage in participatory methods that actively involve teachers, students, and community partners working together to co-design digital learning environments that serve their communities. I look forward to exchanging ideas, sharing our perspectives, lessons learnt and receiving positive feedback and constructive criticism about my lab’s research from the community.

Ibrahim Adisa (Ph.D. student, Clemson University) [He/Him/His]

I am a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences program at Clemson University, interested in how youth develop agency in data science and use data for self-expression and advocacy. I work primarily with middle school children and teachers in formal and non-formal learning environments. I look forward to learning more about ‘designing for children’ during the CHI conference and hope to brainstorm ideas with researchers that share similar interests.

Critical Machine Learning, Participatory Design, Socio cultural theory, Constructionism, Critical theory

Identifying Opportunities to Reimagine Parametric Modeling for Makers

Makers often build on the work of others by customizing and combining shared designs. These designs, however, need to be specified in a way that allows for easy reuse. However, designing such models is typically performed using high-end CAD software originating from industry. Systems should be reimagined to enable more designers to specify how their designs should behave in different contexts (i.e., the design intent). Enabling designers to easily embed this information in their designs addresses the need in the making community for designs that can easily shared with, and reused by, others. Eventually, having access to these easily customizable, parametric designs will enable richer customization activities, fueling the further growth of the maker movement. We investigate techniques to lower the barrier for designing high-quality parametric designs by identifying existing strategies that are used in state-of-the-art systems. By articulating these techniques, we hope to stimulate research on re-envisioning how makers engage in designing reusable models.

Tom Veuskens (Ph.D. student, Hasselt University) [he/him]

Tom Veuskens is a third-year Ph.D. student at Hasselt University working under the supervision of Prof. Raf Ramakers. Tom’s research aims to lower the barrier of (3D) design tools while not affecting their expressivity. The goal is to enable more novice makers to express the designs they want to fabricate precisely, without relying on extensive CAD expertise.

End-user modeling, CAD modeling, novices, fabrication

DEEP: Decentral European Educational Platform

Web 3 Technology opens a wide range of possibilities to re-invent the way we learn and create. In our societies there are different knowledge hubs, like museums, libraries, schools, and maker spaces. As of now these knowledge hubs are like a patch work. We need to explore how emerging technologies like XR, Blockchain or Ai can be used to connect the missing links in this knowledge patchwork to a decentralized deep learning network. With their focus on self-learning, citizen science and their agile organizational structure making spaces can take an exploratory and exemplary role in exploring the possibilities of the future of learning and creating. In this sense "Making" enables a new perspective on the digitization processes in school and out-of-school contexts. It opens creative ways to use existing digital and analog means without focusing on a specific method and corresponding equipment. Physically speaking maker spaces are knowledge hubs that are embedded in their local communities, where they can strengthen the citizens that live around them. The strength of local communities is that they know best what learning topics they need to explore to further develop and what themes they would like to express in their creative works. A decentral structure is needed that supports the development of local learning communities, while opening the possibilities to share their learnings, apps, or tools with a wider network leading to a multiplicity of ideas that can be picked up and further developed in other communities. To transfer competences and comprehension from one Hub to the other, learning challenges can be conceived that connect and make use of the knowledge and technologies available in specific location to other remote locations.

Mario Parade (Teacher/Fablab Manager, Wissenschaftsladen Potsdam)

I am currently working as a teacher at the Montessori School Potsdam on a project that combines agriculture and making at an out-of-school learning site. For more than 10 years I have been managing the fablab of the Wissenschaftsladen Potsdam as a fablab manager. In several research projects we develop new methods to test and establish Education and Making (Digital Fabrication). These include projects for disabled people, mobile makerspace concepts, bioeconomy and for lifelong learning. In the current project Haptiq, students will be introduced to basic concepts of quantum computing. At the Biberkor Academy, I work in teacher training. There, mainly in the areas of maker education as well as project-oriented teaching in agriculture.

XR-Technology, Blockchain, Ai, Competence and Comprehension as defined by Daniel C. Dennett, learning challenges

Clouds in the Makerspace

The Internet-of-Things (IoT) has the potential to radically transform open data sharing and equalize disparities in makerspaces by connecting people and sensors that would otherwise have no pathway for communication. This paper presents a vision for networked devices that expand maker spaces into homes, cities, and even in the wild. Maker education and makerspaces have cultivated a new wave of 21st century skills including critical thinking and problem solving. They have also created a new brand of making that divides those who have access to maker tools and makerspaces, and those who do not. Access has improved with the growth of online making communities over the last two decades and the adaptation of open-source software by the maker community. First, I present IoT as a novel link that could revolutionize makerspaces and STEM education further. Then, I present a set of guidelines on how to effectively design a “connected makerspace” and build new paradigms for educators and learners in hybrid learning environments.

Deren Guler (Research scientist, Teknikio) [she, her]

Deren Guler is a researcher, designer and educator based in New York who has led projects and workshops around the world. Designing accessible tools to re-imagine and reinvent the world motivates her work. She is the founder and CEO of Teknikio- an award-winning series of electronics modules and toolsets, adjuncts at Parsons School of Design, is a co-founder of the FatcatFablab makerspace, and author of Crafting Wearables: Blending Technology with Fashion.

Internet of Things, Makerspaces, Democratizing Tools, STEM Learning

From Unblackboxing to Deblackboxing: Questions about what to make visible in computational making

This paper draws on critical perspectives and a specific design case of learning in making with physical computing cards to argue that unblackboxing as a design goal must go beyond technical or computational aspects of computational making. Taking a justice-oriented stance on computing education, we review earlier perspectives on unblackboxing in computing education and their limitations to support equitable learning for young people. As a provocation and practical guide for designers and educators, we propose the idea of deblackboxing, and outline a set of prompts, organized into four areas, or layers – disciplinary knowledge and practice, externalities, histories, and possible futures. Tools and materials designed through the lens of deblackboxing could provide new possibilities for interaction, production, and pedagogy in makerspaces. We demonstrate how these might be applied in the design of a set of creative physical computing materials used with youth in a weeklong summer workshop.

Colin Dixon (Research scientist, BSCS Science Learning) [he/him]

Colin Dixon is a researcher and educator focused on science learning across settings. He is currently engaged in participatory design and research with teachers, museum educators, and HCI designers around computer science and technology education. He strives to understand and co-create learning experiences that are equitable, inclusive and centered around what young people want to do in their worlds. This work brings Colin into denim studios, classrooms, community organizations, makerspaces and other places of invention, connection, and joy.

Computational making

G-Image: A Workflow for 2D and 3D Design and Fabrication

This paper introduces G-Image, a workflow and interface that creates custom G-Code using 2D imagery as direct scaffolding to create 3D textured forms. This approach is designed to support artists and educators who have already developed basic 2D programming skills in Processing. Though this work was explored in Processing, the methods are easily replicable in other languages such as Python or C++ (openFrameworks). We aim to help these practitioners apply their existing knowledge to 3D modeling and fabrication. The workflow and interface are designed to remove some barriers for entry into digital fabrication, while helping users gain intimacy with fabrication machines (primarily 3D printers) through the production of custom G-Code. Users can see how 2D patterns can be translated into G-Code, without intermediary modeling tools or slicers. By providing this light-weight introduction to G-CODE, we also hope to remove some of the mystery from the process of creating 3D forms.

Amy Traylor (Ph.D. student, University of New Mexico) [she/her]

I am a PhD student in Dr. Leah Buechley's lab working in computational fabrication. My research focuses on developing new tools to teach computational art and design. I am also an artist, mother of 4, and infrequent gardener.

3D printing, G-Code, Processing, interface, computational art education, digital fabrication computational design

ASTEROIDS: Exploring Swarms of Mini-Telepresence Robots for Physical Skill Demonstration

Online synchronous tutoring allows for immediate engagement between instructors and audiences over distance. However, tutoring physical skills remains challenging because current telepresence approaches may not allow for adequate spatial awareness, viewpoint control of the demonstration activities scattered across an entire work area, and the instructor’s sufficient awareness of the audience. We present Asteroids, a novel approach for tangible robotic telepresence, to enable workbench-scale physical embodiments of remote people and tangible interactions by the instructor. With Asteroids, the audience can actively control a swarm of mini-telepresence robots, change camera positions, and switch to other robots’ viewpoints. Demonstrators can perceive the audience’s physical presence while using tangible manipulations to control the audience’s viewpoints and presentation flow.

Jiannan Li (Ph.D. student, University of Toronto) [He/Him/His]

I am a PhD student at the Dynamic Graphics Project, University of Toronto, working with Ravin Balakrishnan and Tovi Grossman. I design, build, and test interactive systems that help people effectively use new camera (robotic, body-worn) and display (HMDs, transparent displays) technologies to communicate, collaborate, and learn. I believe the future of collaboration tools lies in seamlessly combining digital (mixed reality) and physical (environments with sensing and actuating capabilities) content.

Telepresence, Collaboration, Robots, Physical Skill

Using Fiber Arts and Sonification to Improve Data Accessibility of Maker Spaces

Maker spaces pose access barriers to learning the skills to 'make', barriers in using the tools to 'make' and barriers to the spaces where making happens. In this paper, we explore one facet of inaccessibility -- the assumption of vision. Images and data are central to making, and there is a need for affordable solutions that support different stages of the making process, and are suited to making workflows. We present our ongoing work with embroidered tactile graphics and sonification, and re-imagine systems of making to be inclusive.

Aashaka Desai (Ph.D. student, University of Washington) [she/her]

I'm Aashaka Desai, a second-year PhD student at University of Washington. I'm advised by Jennifer Mankoff and Richard Ladner. My research focus is accessibility and human-computer interaction, and I like to explore ways in which technology and people can mediate access, and imagine how we can move towards sustainable accessibility that centers lived experiences of people with disabilities.

Jennifer Mankoff (Professor, University of Washington/CREATE) [She/her]

Jennifer Mankoff's research is focused on accessibility through giving people the voice, tools and agency to advocate for themselves. She strives to bring both structural and personal perspectives to her work. For example, her recent work in fabrication of accessible technologies not only develops innovative tools that can enable individual makers but also explores the larger clinical and sociological challenges to disseminating and sharing designs. Similarly, her work in the intersection of mental health and discrimination uses sensed data to explore how external risks and pressures interact with people’s responses to challenging moments. Jennifer received her PhD at Georgia Tech, advised by Gregory Abowd and Scott Hudson, and her B.A. from Oberlin College.

Accessibility in Makerspaces

Automating Documentation Considered Harmful (Some of the Time)

This position paper aims at triggering a discussion around systems for automating maker’s documentation in a learning context and why that might be problematic or even harmful. We first describe the context of learning in makerspace and the importance of documenting, in particular regarding the fact that it enables makers to reflect on their process. We then discuss the difficulties of documenting and the potential benefits of automating some parts of the process. Finally, we question whether these automated features, which simplify the process of documentation creation are necessarily beneficial for learners.

Clara Rigaud (Sorbonne Université, CNRS)

[no bio]

Documentation, Reflection-in-action, Reflection-on-action

Tabletop Time Machine: Augmenting Physical Prototyping via Situated Playback

We present Tabletop Time Machine, a system that leverages in-moment video capture and data visualization on a workbench to support iteration through capturing key design decisions and enabling systemic experimentation in physical prototyping, inspired by the support tools available in software development. While software development support tools such as version history, code difference highlighting, and runtime debuggers allow developers to review, analyze, and debug software projects within the coding environment, similar support in hardware development requires users to shift away from their current working environment to utilize and offer only basic functionality. To provide this support, we developed Tabletop Time Machine, a proof of concept tabletop system which provides continuous full-scale video capture and playback of one’s prototyping workspace, enables meaningful segmentation of the video capture, and can combine that capture with relevant digital information such as Arduino serial output and code versions.

Colin An Yeung (University of Calgary)

[no bio]


Rec-to-Tech: Implementation of a Training Program for Educators to Lead a Youth Program in Baltimore Recreation Centers

Informal technology education in makerspaces has the potential to be an equalizer of science, technology, engineering, and math education for underserved youth. An important component of these learning programs are the educators. Our project trains educators to support youth through a maker-based learning experience that is designed with an explicit focus on equity. Our current iteration of the program began in January of 2022. So far, one round of educator trainings has been conducted and two rec centers have begun implementing the youth program. Even in these first weeks of youth program implementation, several tensions and strategies to address these tensions have been identified. Tensions include: educator hesitation to take up a “tinkering” method of learning used in the trainings, a tension between a prevailing familiar formal teaching approach and informal teaching approach promoted in the training, a lack of buy-in from key stakeholders, and an over-reliance on the research study team members. The flexible structure of the program and educators’ openness to equity-based approaches, however, has resulted in suggestions from stakeholders already identifying some key ways that the program could be iterated upon to improve learning outcomes for their youth. Some of the suggestions seen thus far are to incorporate hip-hop and urban fashion into the educational experiences.

Erin Higgins (Ph.D. student, University of Maryland, Baltimore County) [she/her/hers]

I am a first-year PhD student and research assistant at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. I am interested in creating equitable and accessible makerspaces and observing the impact of these spaces in the community. I am also interested in using makerspaces to develop low-cost assistive technology. We are currently running makerspace programs in rec centers in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. I am hoping to learn how other researchers are going about gathering feedback from youth. I am also excited to learn about all of the other work going on in makerspaces.

Maker learning, afterschool youth programs, urban settings, underrepresented minorities

Introducing Computer Science to Middle School Students Through Crafts

We aim to study how to teach creative coding relating traditional crafts (drawing, embroidery, knitting, etc.) to digital fabrication tools. We refer to creative coding as programming with an artistic purpose in mind. The goals of the workshops are to (1) present creative coding as a creative medium for artistic expression, (2) introduce p5.js as an accessible programming environment that facilitates creative coding, and (3) introduce digital fabrication as a method to transform code into physical objects.We also present the outcomes of the first of our introductory workshop series conducted at the Santa Barbara Junior High school, with 64 eight grade students. During the workshop students explored the art of patterns and tilings through interactive examples made in p5.js, a browser-based software. Using an Axidraw plotter, students had the opportunity to engage with digital fabrication by using their code to draw stickers and bookmarks. Students could then expand on their design by manually adding decorative ornamentation to their artworks.

Ashley Del Valle (Ph.D. student, University of California Santa Barbara) [she/ her/ hers]

I am from Puerto Rico and I am a crafter of expressive tools and experiences. I am a Ph.D. student in the Expressive Computation Lab​ at the Media Arts and Technology Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My work focuses on building learning systems for creative and hands-on making through coding and crafts. I aim to engage young students with computational design while using craft-based thinking to guide them into digitally fabricating functional objects. I aim to engage native Spanish speakers and empower them to create things that are meaningful to them.

Sam Bourgault (PhD. student, University of California, Santa Barbara) [she/they]

Sam Bourgault (Montreal) is a Ph.D. student in the Media Arts and Technology program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They own degrees in Computation Arts from Concordia University (2019) and in Physics Engineering from Polytechnique Montreal (2015). Their work spans across art, robotics, and HCI.