The hAPPy-Lab: A gender-conscious way to learn coding basics in an open makerspace setting

Bernadette Spieler, Maria Grandl, Vesna Krnjic

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


In Computer Science, and particularly in the context of Maker Education, students should try out new technologies (including coding) or craft techniques without fear of failure and in a playful way. Studies have shown that learning programming through tinkering appeals to boys more than girls. Taking that into consideration, tools and tasks can make a huge difference in an open learning and teaching environment. These observations are supported by the results of a pop-up-makerspace event for children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 14. The “MAKER DAYS” for kids took place in the summer of 2019 at Graz University of Technology and attracted 132 children for 4 days. The main goal of the event was to enable authentic learning experiences and to try out new technologies. Participants could choose from a variety of activities, including digital fabrication with 3D-printing, soldering, programmed embroidery, coding, and robotics. Five workshop areas focused on coding skills. The “hAPPy-Lab” acted as a starting point to practise Computational Thinking as well as to learn the basics of coding by developing an app. For example, participants with minor or no coding skills, who wanted to create an embroidery design or use a microcontroller, were asked to visit the hAPPy-Lab first. The hAPPy-Lab implemented a carousel activity and the participants were supported by peer tutors. In this paper, we present the didactic and educational environment of the hAPPy-Lab and suggestions for a similar environment in school.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-75
Number of pages12
JournalCEUR Workshop Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
Event13th International Conference on Informatics in School: Situation, Evaluation and Perspectives: ISSEP 2020 - Virtual, Tallinn, Estonia
Duration: 16 Nov 202018 Nov 2020


  • Creative Coding
  • Girls
  • Improving Classroom Teaching
  • Maker Space
  • Open Learning Spaces
  • Teaching/Learning Strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)


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