Empowering children with design and making

by INTERACT Research Unit, University of Oulu added on 07 Nov 2019

Brief description:
We (senior researchers with a team of junior researchers) work mostly with local schools (volunteering teachers and their classes) but the projects can be carried out in informal learning settings as well, e.g. in different kinds of hobby related clubs. Teachers usually set certain learning goals for the projects but they are often quite informal and no assessment has been conducted. Children are invited to reflect on their experiences and learning in different kinds of situations: interviews, essay writing. A project typically lasts for several months, including child led ideation, design, making, programming, evaluation, and reflection. Children are given freedom to decide on the project topic and they work on the topic in small groups. Premises of the schools are utilized as well as the Fab Lab of the University of Oulu. Different kinds of playful tools (e.g. Robots, LEGOs) as well as digital fabrication equipment can be used. The goal is children’s technology education (e.g. design, making, programming, computer education, familiarizing with design thinking, maker movement). The previous projects have e.g. developed different kinds of games and they have included game playing by children.
(where the practice takes place)
(where the practice takes place)
Organization name:
(running the practice)
INTERACT Research Unit, University of Oulu
Organization type:
Contact person:
Netta Iivari or Marianne Kinnula
Contact email:
(for further information and inquiries)
Social media:
Related resources:
(e.g., web site, publications,media)
Participants’ age groups:
Indicative number of participants:
Oriented to a specific gender?
(for the same group of participants)
Total duration:
(for the same group of participants)
(where the practice takes place)
  • Classroom, formal learning space, etc.
  • Community lab, FabLab, non-formal learning space, etc.
  • Other
What are the role(s) of the adult(s) running the practice?
  • Facilitator
  • Observer
  • Maker/coder/scientist
During the practice, participants…
  • Make
  • Play
  • Code
Participants work…
Alone, In pairs, In groups of...
What type of materials do participants use?
  • Pen and paper
  • Craft supplies / Stationery
  • Computers
  • Tablets
  • Robotics
  • Digital games
  • 3D printers
  • Laser cutters
Pedagogical approach:
  • Design-based learning
  • Collaborative-learning
  • Creative thinking
  • Critical thinking
Social justice/equity approaches:
  • Activities are designed to empower participants and meet their needs
Does the practice have (explicit or implicit) learning objectives?
Is the practice (explicitly or implicitly) connected to school curricula?
Yes, implicitly
If connected in any way to school curricula, which subjects are covered?
  • Computer science
  • Design
  • Technology
  • Other
Additional notes:
The projects typically include a lot of flexibility and freedom: teachers and researchers both have been interested in engaging on this type of creative and open-ended exploration with children.