Making Laboratories


Due to the high number of requests, Making Laboratories will only accept participants by invitation. The chairs will send out the invitations soon.

Making Laboratories is a two-day pre-conference workshop (22 and 23 of May) organized in conjunction with the COOP Conference 2016, 12th International Conference on the Design of Cooperative Systems (25-27 of May). The 2016 edition is curated and introduced by the University of Trento while the Making Laboratories pre-conference workshop is hosted by the MUSE FabLab, located within the MUSE Science Museum, in Trento as well.

The Making Laboratories is a two day seminar focusing on the topic of Workshopology. In it, experts from different fields of research and practice – from academia to fablabs – will team up in order to co-create both guidelines for workshops and physical prototypes of educational activities, collaboratively discussed, designed and prototyped in the FabLab facility.

Making Laboratories pre-conference workshop participants are not required to attend the main conference. See the Registration section of the COOP16 website (URL below) to get information about fees, conference registration and program.


In recent years, there has been surge in cultures of making, including digital fabrication, electronic tinkering, repairing, hobbyist robotics, and related forms of creative practices involving physical and electronic materials and emerging tools and technologies. COOP researchers and practitioners view making as the site of novel forms of engagement with diverse materials, community formation around amateur expertise, open sharing, and the development and implementation of new software and hardware tools.

Researchers focusing on such practices and cultures are increasingly becoming sensitive to the role(s) of the workshop/event format in collaborative practices and their outcomes. Indeed, makers learn by doing, commonly in co-working spaces, maker spaces, fab labs, tinkering studios around the world. Oftentimes, making takes place in staged events such as workshops, hackathons, and conventions where like-minded makers are brought together to tinker/hack together, share materials, experiences, and best practices.

Events such as Science Hack Days in Berlin ( generate lots of stuff—in the forms of both physical and digital prototypes, materials (e.g., circuits, tools, self-made tools, code samples), as well as related secondary artifacts such as how-to guides, manuals, design/make documents and plans, institutional strategic plans on making, and media discourses among others.

All of this raises questions about maker workshops and similar staged events and their relation to the forms of inquiry they support, including teaching and learning for novice makers, innovation with materials and techniques, and speculations concerning new possibilities and technology-supported ways of being and doing. Questions include the following:

  • What qualities of the maker workshop or staged event distinctively contribute to inquiry outcomes?
  • How should workshops be sequenced? What kinds of activities and prompts best support collaborative inquiry?
  • What sorts of settings and environments (both spatial and technical) best support collaboration and inclusion?
  • What toolkits, materials, tools, and project recipes best support inquiry in these events?
  • How should events be followed up to maximize their impacts?
  • How can positive outcomes of inquiry in such environments be recognized and articulated?

In the Making Laboratories at COOP2016, we will engage in the theme of Workshopology–making alongside and in support of a meta-conversation about maker workshops and events. Our making will be both material and discursive and will be developed within two days of collaborative design activity.

The outcomes of the pre-conference workshop will be staged within the COOP2016 conference within the Interactive Experience section (URL below). We anticipate that outcomes might include toolkits, make kits, instructables, workshop plans, and so forth.


Making Laboratories at COOP2016 will take place during two days prior to the conference at MUSE FabLab. Pre-conference co-chairs Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell, Sabina Barcucci and Serena Cangiano will facilitate the workshop. On Day One we will draft a meta-approach to Workshopology based on theoretical and practical knowledge and on Day Two we will prototype 2-3 workshop experiences.

We welcome about 10-12 participants who already have or are planning making workshops, hackathons, make events, etc. or who focus on maker workshop organization, design, facilitation, planning, and/or theorizing. We welcome participants from diverse disciplines, including those new to the conference COOP: researchers, makers, hackers, sociologists, artists, interaction designers, scientists, creative technologists, and more. Independent as well as institutional profiles are both warmly invited to apply. The more diverse will result the final set of participants, the more experimental will be the final output. Making Laboratories co-chairs will facilitate both the discursive meta-discussion on the first day and the making session on the second day.

Working Program

Day One: Participants will discuss best practices and challenges from prior making event/hackathon/workshop experiences. The discussions will be oriented to tease forward what we’ve collectively learned concerning topics, materials, contexts, and environments informing the design of maker events/workshops. We will assembled these into a “Meta-Instructable for Making Laboratories,” which we will post on the Making Laboratories web site and repository on GitHub.

Day Two: Participants will break into two-three groups. Working from a common prompt/framework based on the outcomes of Day One, each group will design a making workshop/event, using the MUSE FabLab facility ( There will be a synthesis discussion at the end of the day for participants to reflect on the hands-on experience of co-creating the new making events, as well as an opportunity to iterate on the “Meta-Instructable.”

Physical outputs, toolkits, and/or event handbooks/instructables resulting from Day Two will be displayed throughout the COOP2016 conference.

Submission Requirements

We ask a visual portfolio or a website with photos, video data, or other kinds of presentation of planning and/or actual events of making you held in the past or are currently working on.

A companion document indicating (1) names and affiliations of the authors, (2) overview of the event (in the past or in progress), including the context (e.g., motivation, objectives, expectations, size, prerequisites, etc.), (3) the technical, logistical, and material requirements of the event, and (4) a brief retrospective reflection on lesson learned.

Submission materials should be e-mailed to the Making Laboratories Co-Chairs at:


Since registration fees for COOP2016 does not cover pre-conference events, accepted participants will be asked to pay a 30 euros fee each to attend Making Laboratories. The fee will cover coffee breaks and workshop prototyping materials (like pcbs boards, electronic components, e-textile, wiring, etc).

Critical Dates

  • Submission deadline: March 5, 2016
  • Author notifications: March 12, 2016
  • Making Laboratories in Trento, Italy (pre-conference event): May 22-23, 2016
  • COOP2016 Conference in Trento, Italy: May 25-27, 2016

Making Laboratories Chairs

  • Jeffrey Bardzell (Indiana University)
  • Shaowen Bardzell (Indiana University)
  • Sabina Barcucci (MUSE FabLab, MUSE Science Museum)
  • Serena Cangiano (SUPSI)

About the MUSE FabLab facility

The workshops and toolkits making and prototyping will be supported by fablab technical staff and with machineries and tools available at the MUSE FabLab (