A New Makerspace at Fabrica Ciencia Viva


Last month, after the Ecsite conference in Graz, I had the chance to visit Fabrica Centro de Ciencia Viva, a science museum in northern Portugal where they are just getting going with a dedicated space for making and tinkering.


The science center has an inspiring setting in a building in a former cereal factory in a central location in the city of Aveiro. IMG_4889

I loved that the old grain milling equipment remains in the museum as part of the visitor experience. There are lots of nooks and crannies for kids to play with and explore as they move around galleries with exhibits and art installations.


I spent two days with the team to try some activities together and reflect on our process as learners while keeping in mind the ways these ideas might influence the design of the space and strategies for training facilitators. The group already had some experiences with making and tinkering so it was great to see their ideas take shape as we built scribbling machines and paper circuits IMG_5016


Each time we try these activities, especially when in a new location, we see new thinking and goals emerge. This was especially the case for the paper circuits workshop session where people immeadiately skipped to 3D designs like paper airplanes and origami structures. One group combined projects and taking inspiration from the iconic nearby lighthouse and beach houses, they created a light-up diorama of the local landmarks. IMG_5087

At the same time we were messing around with tinkering activities, construction crews were putting the finishing touches on the future makerspace. I got to witness the team painting the walls, delivering sturdy work tables, and experimenting with environmental elements like light and sound. It will be great to see next steps for this group as they continue to draw on their experiences with making and tinkering to develop a space where they can share projects and activities with museum visitors.

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