Matt's Maker Space Spotlight: Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Matt’s Maker Space is bringing smiles to children during their time in the hospital. Originally launching in 2018 as our first hospital Matt’s Maker Space, Children’s Hospital has recently moved into a new and bigger space where kids and their families can come down and release their creativity.
Due to COVID-19, their Matt’s Maker Space has been operating a little differently -- however, in true maker spirit, they are making it work. Dealing with various restrictions such as only one student allowed in the space at a time, thorough cleanings needing to be taken place in between each child, doors needing to be locked at all times to ensure cleanliness, and limited time restraints or unpredictable schedules of the children, there is no restriction on the freedom and creativity the space provides. While the hospital may be a place where these kids don’t get to make a lot of choices, one of Rebecca Desmond, the event coordinator at Children’s, goal is to allow it to be “a space where the kids can make their own choices.” It’s “truly a maker studio” where the children walk in, see all the space has to offer, and get to decide what they want to do today.
While the space is endlessly filled with crafting items, legos, 3D printers, laser cutters, and more, the space goes far beyond the four walls. In the hospital, there are many patients who may not be able to come down to the space or unable to spend enough time there to complete their project. Amazing news is, this just means the space comes to them! Alongside with a cart that goes to the children’s rooms, there are also personalized kits catered to a child’s interest, and also pre-made kits with “challenge cards” to spark the imagination. Example projects have been random legos with a challenge to build something, post-its with the challenge to make a house out of them, and special for Shark Week: shark slime and build a model of a shark.
The Matt’s Maker Space is providing endless support and creativity to children who wouldn’t normally have the outlet to be as expressive otherwise. Their programming is unique and responsive and there’s only more Rebecca Desmond hopes to achieve with the space. In the future, she would like to be able to pair the space with physical and occupational therapy as there’s a lot of opportunity in using the space to further patient development. Once the space is able to fully open again, Desmond is excited to make the space a family space filled with collaborative crafting, storage space for kids to come back to their projects, and volunteers to aid in the making and allow for the space to be “bigger and better!”