The Maker Revolution: simple models and tools for digital making



Animating the Newcomen Engine – Barnsley Museums. Photo: Wayne Sables

One of my favourite jobs as a heritage consultant is being the Learning & Content Lead for the Age of Revolution project – an online resource for schools based around a ‘revolutionary’ collection of over 100 objects from museums and galleries across the UK. Recently we’ve been working with sector partners to create simple, useful resources for schools and museums keen to have a go at digital making, but not always sure where to start…

The Maker Movement is a technological and creative revolution underway around the world. It combines new tools and technology with traditional making in the physical world to solve problems and bring new ideas to life, quickly and cheaply. The movement promotes collaboration and sharing of ideas, tools and findings so that others can bring even better ideas to life and solve more and more complex problems. Team unlimbited – who began by making bespoke, 3D printed prosthetic limbs for children in their garden shed – are just one of a gazillion great examples of the Maker Movement in action. The Pussy Hat project is another.

Teachers and Museum Learning Producers told us they were keen to incorporate digital making into their learning activities, but a lack of time and resource made this difficult – and many didn’t really know where to start. Our response to this was The Maker Revolution – the digital making strand of our Age of Revolution resources for schools.

Inspired by the Maker Movement’s ethos of combining new and traditional technologies, we funded ten museum-school partnerships to each develop a digital making project that could be shared and replicated in classrooms and museums across the UK. Each project should:

  • Use easily accessible digital tools, such as tablets, greenscreens, 3D printers, coding or mini-computers (e.g. Raspberry Pi, micro:bit)
  • Incorporate museum collections and link to the Age of Revolution (1775 – 1848)
  • Be curriculum-relevant
  • Develop young people’s digital skills
  • Be easily replicable in a classroom or museum setting.

By participating in one of these projects, students (and educators) would not only learn new creative and digital skills, but also gain knowledge and understanding about some of the extraordinary innovations and ideas from the Age of Revolution.

Our partners did not disappoint! The funding allowed them to experiment with freely available digital tools and, together, they developed a collection of innovative – yet simple – projects and approaches. These ranged from projection mapping of the first steam engine (complete with animated parts and folk soundtrack), to stop-frame animation, interactive campaign banners and revolutionary cookbooks.

Find out more – and have a go – with our ‘How to’ guides and project blogs:

Still from the Age of revolution animation

Revolutionary animation with the Age of Revolution – bringing to life the first balloon flight, vaccination, protest and the French revolution through simple stop-motion animation.

Interactive campaign banners with Leeds Museums – combining traditional felt making with micro:bits and simple coding

The Newcomen Engine with Barnsley Museums – exploring the workings of this extraordinary machine through animated projection mapping

Interactive revolutionary cookbooks with London Connected Learning Centre  – the industrial revolution, climate change and digital cookbooks to reduce your carbon footprint

Making an Abolition quilt with Hull Museums – bringing together voices of resistance and abolition through digital collaging and traditional quilting

Adaptation and evolution with SEARCH: Hampshire Cultural Trust – simple coding using Scratch

As Lockdown starts to ease, we’re looking forward to these projects – coming soon:

  • A women’s virtual march through time – with Bradford Peace Museum
  • Revolutionary digital comics – with Brunts Academy
  • Traditional and digital techniques in ceramics and ceramic surface design – with Christchurch Academy
  • 3D printing with The National Museum of Computing


 The Age of Revolution

The Age of Revolution (1775 – 1848) was a time of seismic change and upheaval, of extraordinary ideas and innovation and of radical new ways of thinking, living and working.  From campaigns for equality, rights and freedoms, to life-changing discoveries and innovations, the Age of Revolution shaped the modern world. It saw the transformation of whole nations through the French, American and Haitian revolutions; violent wars around the globe; the industrial and printing revolutions, the birth of the railways and major advances in medicine and science; as well as Chartism, the abolition of slavery, the beginnings of feminism, communism and the suffrage movements – and much more.

All of which still impacts on our lives today




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