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The Innovation 4 Inclusion Makeathon: Meaningful Making in the Makerspace

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 126A

Participate and share: Interactive session
Recorded Session
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Ed Tech Consultant
Ounce IT
Dr. Jared Matas has two decades of teaching experience in a wide range of classrooms including kindergarten, middle school and university. Jared has worked as a tech director and an educational consultant leading teacher professional development on topics such as project-based learning, STEAM integration, coding and remote teaching. Jared loves helping teachers expand their capacities to use technology as a tool for encouraging a student-centered approach to teaching and learning. Jared’s curiosity about the educational potential of technology was sparked as a child when he programmed a Logo turtle to move across the monitor of his Apple IIC.

Session description

The Innovation 4 Inclusion Makeathon is a powerful framework for inspiring students to use makerspace tools to design solutions to meaningful real-world challenges. Integrating STEAM engineering challenges with disability awareness, students learn to design for inclusion by creating artifacts to help clients with disabilities overcome day-to-day challenges.

Purpose & objective

In this session, participants will learn about and engage in an Inclusion Makeathon, where participants design solutions to everyday challenges faced by people with disabilities. The presenter will share about the growing movement to embrace inclusive design as an essential element of 21st century education and how educators can bring this project to their school communities. Participants will learn how to integrate a STEM approach with disability awareness, taking advantage of the opportunities of makerspace tools to engage students in a unique, engaging and powerful learning experience.

This program is unique because this process begins with a meaningful human experience: developing a relationship with the Needs Knower - a person with a disability. Inclusive design principles are so integral to the Inclusion Makeathon experience that even more significant than the artifacts that students create is the transformational impact on how they see the world. The Inclusion Makeathon gives students a chance to see themselves as empowered problem solvers, with a positive social mission.

The Inclusion Makeathon curriculum offers a meaningful, high quality educational experience that is highly appealing to educational institutions in diverse settings. Built around one unique powerful concept, the program can be easily adapted to multiple contexts, taking into consideration different access to resources and time constraints. The concept of inclusion that is core to the values of this project is not limited to physical abilities. We have implemented the Makeathon both as a semester-long course and a one-time program. This flexibility makes it widely appealing while simultaneously creating community-wide momentum around the project.

The Inclusion Makeathon is a unique educational program for middle school students in diverse settings that fuses STEM engineering challenges with disability awareness. Inspired by Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM Global), the Inclusion Makeathon adapted the makeathon model to be a powerful education experience. Local educators at each host site implement the makeathon according to their institution’s specific resources using the Inclusion Makeathon curriculum framework.

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Introduction: Overview and setting the stage (5 minutes). Explanation of how the Inclusion Makeathon addresses the significant challenge of connecting Makerspace activities with purposeful learning experiences.
Simulation (20 minutes). Workshop participants engage in a very abbreviated inclusion mini-makeathon, gaining exposure to the iterative design process, in order to learn how this process is adapted to emphasize designing for inclusion.
Reflection (10 minutes). Participants reflect on their experience as participants in the mini-makethon, identifying opportunities to implement this concept in their classrooms.
Connections and questions (15 minutes) Presenter shares examples from previous implementations of the inclusion makeathon and makes connections to demonstrate how to adapt the concept for various settings and ages.

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Supporting research

Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design, by Kat Holmes
Tom Global:
Neil Squire Society:

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Session specifications

Maker activities and programs
Grade level:
Skill level:
Principals/head teachers, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Attendee devices:
Devices not needed
Subject area:
Social studies, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards:
For Students:
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
  • Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.
  • Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.