Adults, space, tasks, and equipment shaping children’s digital fabrication and making. A nexus-analytical inquiry

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

IT 116, Linnanmaa campus

Topic of the dissertation

Adults, space, tasks, and equipment shaping children’s digital fabrication and making. A nexus-analytical inquiry

Doctoral candidate

Master's degree Behnaz Norouzi

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Human Computer Interaction and Human-Centered Development (INTERACT)

Subject of study

Computer Science


Professor Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, University of Helsinki


Professor Netta Iivari, University of Oulu

Add event to calendar

Adults, space, tasks, and equipment shaping children’s digital fabrication and making. A nexus-analytical inquiry

In the realm of digital fabrication and making (DFM), scholars worldwide have recognized the
importance of introducing children to this process. Fab Labs, accessible to the public, serve as
ideal spaces for after-school DFM activities. However, the complexity of using these spaces,
particularly when activities are unstructured or open-ended, poses challenges for novice learners. Understanding the factors that influence children's engagement in these DFM activities is
essential. These influencing factors encompass the roles of adults, physical space, available
equipment, and assigned tasks.
First, adults play a pivotal role in shaping children's participation in DFM activities. The
attitudes and approaches of adults, such as Fab Lab instructors, parents, and teachers, impact
children's levels of involvement. Positive and supportive guidance from adults can inspire children to explore and take ownership of their projects, while negative or restrictive approaches may hinder children's willingness to experiment. Second, Fab Lab’s physical space has a profound impact on children's DFM experiences. An inviting environment fosters curiosity, collaboration, and discovery, while an unwelcoming setting can discourage engagement and limihands-on learning opportunities. Third, the availability and quality of equipment within a Fab Lab are critical in shaping children's DFM. The range of technologies accessible to children determines the complexity and types of projects they can undertake. User-friendly equipment enables children to effectively navigate tools and realize their ideas. Finally, tasks assigned to children in a Fab Lab significantly influence their engagement. Open-ended and self-directed exploration encourages independent thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking. Conversely, overly structured tasks may restrict children's agency and hinder free exploration. This thesis employs various qualitative methods to provide a deeper understanding of children's DFM experiences in informal and non-formal Fab Lab settings. The study includes
children aged 7–17 (K–12), Fab Lab instructors, parents, teachers, and researchers. The research sites include Fab Lab Oulu at the University of Oulu and BusinessAsema Fab Lab in Oulu city. The findings underscore the multifaceted nature of children's DFM experiences, shaped by adults’ approaches, the physical space, equipment use, and task assignments. This research enhances our understanding of these complexities, highlighting the interconnectedness of people, space, and materials. Moreover, it reveals how these factors contribute to children's engagement or disengagement, offering valuable insights for both research and the practical design of learning environments and activities that promote children's involvement in Fab Lab settings.
Last updated: 23.1.2024