Maker Therapy

Maker Therapy

NYSCI’s Maker Therapy is an innovative program that bridges education and health care. The program provides children in long-term hospital care with creative outlets and learning opportunities through the use of mobile makerspaces. Giving children the authority to create something of personal meaning and value enhances their feelings of efficacy and autonomy. It also encourages social interaction with others, and improves patient health care by increasing physical mobility.

The goals of Maker Therapy are to:

  • Bridge the gap between physical therapy and learning.
  • Motivate patients to be more physically active in their design and making process.
  • Encourage patients’ social interchange with others.
  • Enhance patients’ sense of agency and identity.

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NYSCI mobile makerspaces are designed to provide a variety of physical and digital materials that children can explore in their hospital rooms. Children are invited to use these materials and devices to pose and solve personally meaningful problems. This new and innovative type of learning experience is unlike any other educational service currently provided by hospitals.

The mobile makerspaces are colorful and bright workstations filled with engaging items and materials that encourage collaboration. Maker Therapy offerings follow NYSCI’s Design-Make-Play philosophy of learning and engagement:

Design: Children pose and solve problems that are meaningful to them, driving their own learning.
Make: Children engage in hands-on learning and problem solving with a variety of materials and devices.
Play: Children are physically active and playful as they design and make.


Case Study: Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital

Over an 18-month period, a pilot program involving mobile makerspaces was conducted at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital in Tennessee. Program managers trained and collaborated with doctors, nurses, hospital teachers, respiratory therapists, healthcare providers and volunteers. The program worked with children who had a variety of chronic illnesses and who were between the ages of 7 and 17.

The major findings of this program were:

  • Patients working with the mobile makerspaces adopted a varied set of orientations, or “maker mentalities,” toward design and making.
  • The mobile makerspaces had the potential to improve the physical health of a patient. In one case, physical mobility increased daily and, overall, nearly nine times more than when the patient did not use the mobile makerspace.
  • Making stimulated learning and creativity, and empowered the children to feel a renewed sense of purpose.
  • The mobile makerspace activities fostered collaboration and social interchange with others; forestalling isolation, anxiety and depression among the patients.
NYSCI’s Maker Therapy – Next Steps

Maker Therapy will initially being implemented in a handful of local hospitals. Eventually, the scale of the project will be widened to include hospitals around the country. The next steps for the project include:

  • Conduct needs-assessment with a partner network of children’s hospitals.
  • Design and fabricate mobile makerspaces to accommodate varying standards within individual hospitals.
  • Create a national model for 300+ children’s hospital, including guides, tutorials and professional development to support practitioners and volunteers.

For more information about this project, contact Gokul Krishnan.