What we’re working on: Advancing high school makerspaces

Open Innovation, Government, Education

Over the past year, we’ve worked with the U.S. Department of Education to help over 600 high schools across the country design makerspaces through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Makeover Challenge. With a cash prize pool of $200,000 and support from 20 sponsors including Microsoft, LEGO Education, Dremel, Autodesk, and MakerBot, the Challenge provided schools with skills, resources, and guidance to build sustainable making programs.

As students face a more competitive work environment than ever before, making helps build the critical-thinking skills that companies and The White House say are key to the future economy, opening doors to careers in design, advanced manufacturing, and other fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

About the Challenge

The CTE Makeover Challenge is the second competition from the U.S. Department of Education’s Ed Prizes, a series of innovation challenges to prepare students for a more competitive world.

Over 600 schools hailing from all 50 states participated in the Challenge by submitting their vision for a new or updated makerspace in their school. All schools were invited to a 6-week virtual bootcamp that provided resources and expertise in makerspace design, lesson planning, sustainability strategies, and community engagement. Following the bootcamp, schools submitted their final makerspace plans to compete for $200,000 in cash prizes and $375,000 in additional sponsor prizes. Submissions demonstrated that makerspaces in schools can live just about anywhere. Designs included mobile makerlabs, auto shop libraries, and entrepreneurship hubs.

The Winners

During the National Week of Making in June, we announced the 10 Challenge winners at The White House Champions of Change for Making event. Throughout the summer, the winning schools began implementing their plans to build or renovate a new makerspace. At World Maker Faire in New York City in October, the winners unveiled their new spaces and shared their learnings with other educators and maker education champions—see the highlights:

Congratulations to the Challenge winners and thank you to our sponsors, judges, review panelists, and mentors for making this program an incredible success!