Backstage work for involvement in a FabLab

During the Fablearn conference which took place on the 18the of june in Trondheim,  Norway, I presented a paper which I wrote together with Selina. This paper ‘On the importance of backstage activities for engaging children in a FabLab’ focuses on the importance of building long term relationships with children when trying to involve them in a FabLab. Nurturing relationship is primarily done during backstage activities (more informal conversations and encounters) of PD processes. By comparing two cases ‘Wa Make’ and ‘Making Things’, we state that half-day STEM workshops for schools in FabLabs – often funded by government or sector organisations – are not sufficient to form meaningful relationships with non-expert users. This is related to factors such as the school contexts in which these workshops generally take place, the children experiencing “school fun” instead of “just fun”, and the limited focus on backstage activities when organizing the trajectory. Instead, by embedding STEM workshops in long(er)-term trajectories, children go beyond simple, introductory activities, start experimenting and are better able to open up to learning. Therefore, we advocate for shifting STEM education to leisure time (e.g. youth work) and considering FabLabs as more than merely technical infrastructures.


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