Studying the formation of an older adult-led makerspace

Amanda Lazar, Alisha Pradhan, Ben Jelen, Katie A. Siek, Alex Leitch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

14 Scopus citations


Makerspaces are being introduced in a wide variety of settings, including community settings such as schools and libraries. Older adults are one group for whom making agendas are being pursued, with envisioned outcomes such as supporting agency and well-being. However, research on making and DIY with older adults typically study individuals who are already engaged in making practices or bring individuals in to a technology environment that has already been created. In this paper, we study the older adult-driven formation of a makerspace in an independent living community. Through an ethnographically-informed approach, we studied the ways that individuals considered appropriate allocation of resources towards a makerspace, scoped activities, evaluated goals, and made trade-ofs. Our analysis is centered around describing the way that this makerspace formed as well as three ways that individuals made sense of the makerspace as the planning unfolded: the openness of a space that promises to cater to interests of the population; the promise of a makerspace to involve more residents in technology, but the need to obscure the technology to make it appealing; and a valuation of the return on investment for limited fnancial and space resources. Our discussion contributes to supporting and studying early adoption of technology by older adults, complicates visions of making for all, and presents considerations regarding the often under-specifed community of a makerspace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationMaking Waves, Combining Strengths
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450380966
StatePublished - May 6 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Making Waves, Combining Strengths, CHI 2021 - Virtual, Online, Japan
Duration: May 8 2021May 13 2021

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Making Waves, Combining Strengths, CHI 2021
CityVirtual, Online

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Software


  • Aging
  • Community
  • Diy
  • Maker
  • Makerspaces
  • Older adults
  • Values


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