So you’re eager to dive in but not sure where to start? As OT’s, we are in a strong position to add makerspace programming to our current practice by utilizing the documentation and communication skills embedded in our instruction and fieldwork experiences. Both skills translate well to marketing the benefits of innovative tools and interventions to administrators, and to secure funding and donations through grant writing and community partnerships. A few suggestions to get your program started:
Just start- Tap into current interests and traditional interventions
Interventions with a Modern Maker Mindset
Therapeutic gardening: Use traditional gardening methods and tools. Create a “smart” garden with clients by using a microcontroller, such as an Arduino, and inexpensive sensors to automate watering, regulate indoor lighting, and monitor soil temperature and nutrient levels.
Animal assisted therapy: Expand on traditional animal assisted therapy by providing hands-on projects with your clients to care for animals. Design and create automated food and water dispensers, automated pet curfew doors, and motion activated cameras for remote viewing.
Woodworking: Use traditional tools to make cutting boards, pens, pen cases, boxes and bowls with clients. Add CNC manufacturing tools to add personalization to traditional woodworking projects using design software with router, laser engraver, or sandblaster.
Scrapbooking: Combine design software and imported images to create personalized stencils and decals using a vinyl or digital die cutter.
Sewing/embroidery: Add soft circuits to traditional fabric projects using conductive fabric and thread. Project ideas: Interactive sensory fidget apron, touch activated LED pillows, or plush game controllers.
Gaming: Enhance gaming experiences via circuits to modify traditional game controllers. Add texture, resistance, and movement for added creativity and engagement.
Not sure yet? There are many unique opportunities for OT’s in the maker movement.
Makerspaces in community and public spaces need to be accessible! OT’s are ideal consultants for inclusion and universal design considerations during the planning stages of a makerspace. Are the workstations flexible for standing or seated participants? Have enlarged print or contrasting colors been considered for labels/instructions? Is there a need for adapted hand tools, workstations/seating, or assistive technology? Are all items in reach and is the space mindful of differences in strength,dexterity and coordination? Occupational therapists can provide training and education to makerspace developers and users to assist with accommodations for diverse participants while reducing barriers to engagement.