Innovative Themes for Learning: School Library Engagement with 3D Printing

Review of the Literature

What type of activities and materials can schools provide in libraries that will engage students, pique their interest for challenging topics and promote authentic learning?  How can school libraries become bustling learning hubs, allowing educators to integrate literature and reading to support inquiry, exploration and an enthusiasm for learning? Research shows that library transformation to include makerspaces is on the rise and reframing “what counts as valuable learning.” (Kumar, 2019; Mersand, 2019). This literature review will examine the benefits of including 3D printing as part of makerspaces for instruction and will outline how various approaches to learning can be the catalyst to change, leading to increased academic achievement. Thoughts about how STEM instruction, makerspaces, experiential learning, design thinking, and computational thinking, combined with 3D printing are all elements in an engaging library program will be briefly represented in this literature review. This review will also examine research methods from around the world and results regarding makerspace and 3D printing in libraries and classrooms.



Angello, Genna & Chu, Sharon Lynn & Okundaye, Osazuwa & Zarei, Niloofar & Quek, Francis. (2016). Making as the new colored pencil: Translating elementary curricula into maker activities. 68-78. 10.1145/2930674.2930723.

Asia Society. (2009). 7 Skills students need for their future. YouTube.

Baker, S. F. A. (2017, November 30). A major making undertaking: A new librarian transforms a middle school library into a makerspace aligned to high school career endorsements. Knowledge Quest.

Bekker, T. 2015. Teaching children digital literacy through design-based learning with digital toolkits in schools. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction. 5, (2015), 29–38. DOI:

Berman, A., Deuermeyer, E., Nam, B., Chu, S. L., & Quek, F. (2018). Exploring the 3D printing process for young children in curriculum-aligned making in the classroom. Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Interaction Design and Children.

Bers, M. U., Strawhacker, A., & Vizner, M. (2018). The design of early childhood makerspaces to support positive technological development. Library Hi Tech, 36(1), 75–96.

Big Think. (2013). The Seven Essential Life Skills, With Ellen Galinsky: Big Think Mentor: Big Think. YouTube.

Barefoot Computing. (2020). Computational Thinking Poster. Retrieved October 24, 2020, from

Bower, M., Stevenson, M., Forbes, A., Falloon, G., & Hatzigianni, M. (2020). Makerspaces pedagogy – supports and constraints during 3D design and 3D printing activities in primary schools. Educational Media International, 57(1), 1–28.

Brown, A. (2015). 3D Printing in instructional settings: Identifying a curricular hierarchy of activities. TechTrends, 59(5), 16–24.

Currier, G. (2018, January 8). (thesis). How 3-D Printing Impacts Libraries. Scribd. Retrieved from 

Committee on STEM Education of the National Science & Technology Council (2018) Charting a course for success: America’s strategy for STEM education

Elrod, R. (2017). Tinkering with teachers: The case for 3D printing in the education library. Education Libraries, 39(1).

Fidalgo, P., Thormann, J., & Davis, A. (2019). Libraries, new technology, and education. Interdisciplinary and international perspectives on 3D printing in education, 200–221.

Fleming, L. (2017). Worlds of making: Best practices for establishing a makerspace for your school. Corwin Sage.

Fontichiaro K. (2016). Should you buy a 3D printer? Teacher Librarian, 43(4), 58–59.

Ford, Simon & Minshall, Tim. (2017). 3D printing in education: a literature review. 

Freeman, A., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., and Hall Giesinger, C. (2017). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2017 K–12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Habley, J. (2021, June 24). Best Digital Tools for Teaching & Learning. American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

ISTE Standards for Students. ISTE. (2016).

Jacobson, L. (2017). Making moves ahead. School Library Journal, 63(9), 38–44.

Julian, K. D., & Parrot, D. J. (2017). Makerspaces in the library: science in a student’s hands. Journal of Learning Spaces, 11(1), 49–63.

Kang-Young Lee and Som-Hyun Som. (2021). Effects of climate change education using 3D printing on climate literacy and science-related attitudes of elementary school students. Energy and Climate Change Education, 11(1), 49-63.

Kumar, V., Millerjohn, R., & Wardrip, P. (2019). Designing tools for observation and assessment in makerspaces. Proceedings of FabLearn 2019. 

Leinonen, Teemu & Virnes, Marjo & Hietala, Iida & Brinck, Jaana. (2020). 3D Printing in the wild: Adopting digital fabrication in elementary school education. International Journal of Art & Design Education. 39. 10.1111/jade.12310

McNally, B., Norooz, L., Shorter, A., & Golub, E. (2017). Toward understanding children’s perspectives on using 3D printing technologies in their everyday lives. Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Interaction Design and Children.

Mersand, S. (2019). Makerspaces in Pre-K–12 School Libraries: A preliminary empirical analysis. In 2019 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Toronto, Canada: AERA Online Paper Repository. 

Mersand, S. (2020). The state of makerspace research: A review of the literature. TechTrends, 65(2), 174–186. 

Partnership for 21st Century Learning (2019). Framework for 21st Century Learning.

Shively, K. L. (2017). Reflections from the field: Creating an elementary living learning makerspace. Learning Communities Research and Practice, 5(1), Article 3.

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