Maker Education Glossary

To help you sort through the maker-specific terms and ideas used through this series, we've including the following glossary. Refer back as you read for more information on the maker education movement.

3-D printer

A technology that allows students to print out designs of their own creation in plastic. (Learn more about 3D-Printers )

Computer-aided design programs (CAD)

The software students use to design what they will print out on 3-D printers. (Learn more about CAD )


A theory that applies to maker education, constructionism is about inventing to learn. Today's maker constructionism is built on Piaget's theory of constructivism and Freire's theories on self-determination in learning. (Learn more about constructionism )

Hands-on learning

A type of learning that gets students up and away from their desks, manipulating the world around them. This type of learning is a great way to engage students through sensory experiences. (Learn more about hands-on learning )

Maker cart

A cart filled with maker supplies. It can be an easy, low-budget way for schools and classrooms to stock makerspaces with the materials they need to do creative projects. They are often mobile and therefore can be used in multiple spaces. (Learn more about maker carts )

Maker education

An adaptation of the maker movement for educational settings. Integrates maker mentalities and techniques for instructional purposes, promoting creativity, collaboration, hands-on learning, project-based learning, risk, creativity, and critical thinking, while in some cases (but not every) adhering to curricular standards. (Learn more about maker education )


An area in a school or community where a maker mentality is encouraged. This could be a stand-alone classroom, or it could be a small space integrated into a general classroom. Makerspaces are stocked with tools needed for maker projects, which can include 3-D printers, shop tools such as a band saw, or low-tech supplies like glue and cardboard. (Learn more about makerspaces )

Project-based learning (PBL)

An approach to pedagogy that encourages students to research, discover and solve problems, questions and challenges. It is a more independent form of learning than traditional instruction-based pedagogy. (Learn more about project-based learning )


STEM with the Arts integrated (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) to reflect the interactivity of scientific, technical and humanities-based subjects in both the academic and real worlds. The Arts are often used as a way to provide an avenue into STEM for students who are not naturally drawn to it. (Learn more about STEAM )


STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM educators tie these subjects together with an interdisciplinary approach, and with an eye toward preparing students with the skills today's jobs demand. (Learn more about STEM )


Stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This includes students who previously spoke no English at all, as well as students who speak English regularly in addition to another language. (Learn more about TESOL )