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Making and building and creating and inventing. Maker activities for learning refers to the creative use of analog and digital technologies to create and re-appropriate artifacts to solve specific problems or achieve goals. The focus is on engineering- or DIY-oriented problems. Activities are generally collaborative and project-based.


Maker activities are connected with a learning theory called constructionism, which posits that students require active learning opportunities to construct knowledge from experience. The focus is on learning through making personally meaningful artifacts and there is empirical evidence that maker activities can lead to a deeper understanding of complex concepts.


In addition to the NYU-wide resources that classes can use, the FAS Office of Educational Technology has tools for piloting such activities.


Maker activities are all about hands-on, whether that be creating a collage, programming a microcontroller, or producing a multimedia archive. Examples include: building a robot that will avoid obstacles; hacking a radio to invent a wearable; 3D printing an architectural structure; producing an interactive multimedia experience. The tools listed below will give you a basic overview of possible tools to integrate maker activities into the classroom.


These tools are all geared towards basic/beginner use (anyone can do it!), and are broken down by:

  • multimedia production: leveraging multimedia software to create interactive web-based experiences and content. See software offered for current NYU students through the Virtual Computer Lab.
  • programming/physical computing: learning how to program microcontrollers & connect physical component to build interactive physical objects
  • 3D printing: use of fabrication and 3D modeling/printing tools to prototype designs. Check out the NYU Laguardia Studio for all things 3D-related.

Please make an appointment with us if you want to discuss options and feasibility.

Multimedia production (these tools are detailed in the Multimedia creation section) Programming / Physical Computing 3D Modeling / Printing
App design

  • Android Studio (free): mobile development IDE for Android devices
  • Balsamiq (free basic account): wireframing tool with sketch-like quality
  • Mockingbird (free basic account): easy wireframing tool
  • Photoshop: mock up and image prep tool available through the Virtual Computing Lab for NYU students
  • Prototyping on Paper (free): iPhone app for mocking up mobile apps.
  • Swift and XCode (free): mobile development IDE for iOS apps.

Games and Simulations

  • Flash (free for NYU students through Virtual Computer Lab): quick prototyping tool for interactive apps
  • Game Salad (free): simple game development tool
  • HTML 5 (free): requires coding but renders on any device
  • Python (free): flexible programming language for interactivity


  • BatchGeo (free): Cloud-based tool for creating maps
  • CartoDB (free): Cloud-based tool for creating maps. NYU users can access a free account
  • Google maps (free): Cloud-based tool for creating maps

Interactive publishing

  • Google Drive creation suite (free with gmail account): collaborative content creation suite
  • Omeka (free, but requires hosting): create complex online collections and narratives
  • Scalar (free): scholarly publishing platform
  • WordPress (free through NYU publishing): collaborative blog or website

Podcasts, Screencasts, and Narrated media

  • Audacity (free): audio recording and editing tool
  • NYU Stream (free with NYU account): multimedia creation and sharing platform
  • Powerpoint: standard presentation tool
  • Prezi: cloud-based dynamic presentation tool
  • Screencast-O-Matic (limited free version): screencasting tool

  • Arduino ($30 for board; software free): a microcontroller that students can learn to program to make physical objects interactive.
  • Makey Makey ($50 for kit): Arduino compatible board that allows you to turn anything into a computer keyboard or game controller.
  • Rasberry Pi ($40 for board; $70 for kit): Linux computer with video processing in a package the size of a thick credit card!


  • NYU’s Laguardia Studio offers 3D printing services to the NYU community, including: Stratosys (plastic resin printer), powder-based printers, and mixed-material printers.