3D Printing with Marginalized Children—An Exploration in a Palestinian Refugee Camp

  • Oliver Stickel
  • Dominik Hornung
  • Konstantin Aal
  • Markus Rohde
  • Volker Wulf
Conference paper


We work with a multi-national network of computer clubs for families and children called come_IN. In two such clubs (located in Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank), we worked with children on playful approaches concerning 3D modeling and 3D printing within a five-week, qualitative field study. Based on this study, we report on the achievements as well as on the difficulties of digital fabrication and of “Making” in developmental and educational contexts. The benefits are related to an overarching theme of self-expression where the main focus was on dimensions as playfulness, approachable complexity, individualization, immediacy and physicality and collaboration as well as motivation. The problematic aspects were mostly related to socio-technical limitations concerning the themes of orientation and camera control, the lack of coordination and collaboration features, usability and UX issues as well as the construction and limitations of current 3D printers. Based on those findings, we have derived implications for the design and the appropriation of future systems for digital fabrication with children, especially in developmental/educational settings, such as improvements of their collaboration support or better feedback mechanisms regarding the system status towards the end user.


Participatory Action Research Refugee Camp Israeli Defense Force Palestinian Refugee Digital Fabrication 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are indebted to the volunteers and participants in Palestine, especially George Yerousis, Birzeit University.


  1. Aal, K., Yerousis, G., Schubert, K., Hornung, D., Stickel, O., & Wulf, V. (2014). Come_in@Palestine: Adapting a German computer club concept to a Palestinian refugee camp. In Proceedings of CABS (pp. 111–120).Google Scholar
  2. Adams, A., Lunt, P., & Cairns, P. (2008). A qualitative approach to HCI research. In P. Cairns & A. Cox (Eds.), Research methods for human-computer interaction (pp. 138–157). Cambridge: CU Press.Google Scholar
  3. Blikstein, P. (2013). Digital fabrication and ‘making’ in education: The democratization of invention. In J. Walter-Herrmann & C. Büching (Eds.), FabLabs: Of machines, makers and inventors. Transcript Verlag.Google Scholar
  4. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buechley, L., & Perner-Wilson, H. (2012). Crafting technology: Reimagining the processes, materials, and cultures of electronics. ACM TOCHI, 19, 21:1–21:21.Google Scholar
  6. Dourish, P. (2003). The appropriation of interactive technologies: Some lessons from placeless documents. Journal Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 12(4), 465–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Duncan, S. C. (2011). Minecraft, beyond construction and survival. Well Played, 1, 1–22.Google Scholar
  8. Gardner, A. (2014). Oxfam teams with MyMiniFactory to provide humanitarian aid in Syria, using 3D printing. http://3dprint.com/3400/syrian-crisis-oxfam. Accessed January 10, 2015.
  9. Gershenfeld, N. (2005). Fab: The coming revolution on your desktop—from personal computers to personal fabrication. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  10. Gershenfeld, N. (2012). How to make almost anything the digital fabrication revolution. Foreign Affairs, 91, 42–57.Google Scholar
  11. Harel, I., & Papert, S. (1991). Constructionism. New York: Ablex Publishing.Google Scholar
  12. Hatch, M. (2013). The maker movement manifesto. New York: McGraw Hill Education.Google Scholar
  13. Ho, M. R., Smyth, T. N., Kam, M., & Dearden, A. (2009). Human-computer interaction for development: The past, present, and future. Information Technologies and International Development, 5, 1–18.Google Scholar
  14. Kafai, Y. B., Peppler, K. A., & Chapman, R. N. (2009). The computer clubhouse: Constructionism and creativity in youth communities, technology, education-connections. New York: Teachers College.Google Scholar
  15. Krassenstein, E. (2014). Man compares his $42k prosthetic hand to a $50 3D printed cyborg beast. http://3dprint.com/2438/50-prosthetic-3d-printed-hand. Accessed January 10, 2015.
  16. Kuznetsov, S., & Paulos, E. (2010). Rise of the expert amateur: DIY projects, communities, and cultures. In Proceedings of NordiCHI (pp. 295–304).Google Scholar
  17. Kuznetsov, S., Taylor, A. S., Regan, T., Villar, N., & Paulos, E. (2012). At the seams: DIYbio and opportunities for HCI. In Proceedings of DIS (pp. 258–267).Google Scholar
  18. Lee, C. P. (2007). Boundary negotiating artifacts: Unbinding the routine of boundary objects and embracing chaos in collaborative work. In Proceedings of CSCW (Vol. 16, pp. 307–339).Google Scholar
  19. Lindtner, S., Hertz, G., & Dourish, P. (2014). Emerging sites of HCI innovation: Hackerspaces, hardware startups and incubators. In Proceedings of CHI (pp. 1–10).Google Scholar
  20. Ludwig, T., Stickel, O., & V. Pipek (2014b). 3D Printers as potential boundary negotiating artifacts for third places. In 2nd WS on HCI for 3rd Places at DIS’14. Canada: Vancouver.Google Scholar
  21. Ludwig, T., Stickel, O., Boden, A., & Pipek, V. (2014a). Towards sociable technologies: An empirical study on designing appropriation infrastructures for 3D printing. In Proceedings of DIS (pp. 835–844).Google Scholar
  22. McTaggart, R. (1991). Principles for participatory action research. Adult Education Quarterly, 41(3), 168–187.Google Scholar
  23. Mellis, D. A., Buechley, L. (2012). Case studies in the personal fabrication of electronic products. In Proceedings of DIS (pp. 268–277). New York: ACM.Google Scholar
  24. Mikhak, B., Lyon, C., Gorton, T., Gershenfeld, N., Mcennis, C., & Taylor, J. (2002). Fab lab: An alternate model of ICT for development. In Development by Design (DYD02) (pp. 1–7).Google Scholar
  25. Moilanen, J., & T. Vadén (2013). 3D printing community and emerging practices of peer production. First Monday, 18(5).Google Scholar
  26. Pipek, V. (2005). From tailoring to appropriation support: Negotiating groupware usage (Doctoral dissertation, University of Oulu, 2005).Google Scholar
  27. Pipek, V., & Kahler, H. (2006). Supporting collaborative tailoring. In EUD (pp. 315–345).Google Scholar
  28. Resnick, M., Maloney, J., Monroy-Hernández, A., Rusk, N., Eastmond, E., Brennan, K., et al. (2009). Scratch: Programming for all. CACM, 52, 60–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sawhney, N. (2009). Voices beyond walls: The role of digital storytelling for empowering marginalized youth in refugee camps. Voices (pp. 3–6).Google Scholar
  30. Schubert, K., Weibert, A., & Wulf, V. (2011). Locating computer clubs in multicultural neighborhoods: How collaborative project work fosters integration processes. IJHCS, 69, 669–678.Google Scholar
  31. Short, D., & Short, B. D. (2012). Teaching scientific concepts using a virtual world—Minecraft. Teaching Science: The Journal of the Australian Science Teachers Association, 58, 55–58.Google Scholar
  32. Star, S. L., & Griesemer, J. R. (1989). Institutional ecology, ‘Translations’ and boundary objects: Amateurs and professionals in Berkeley’s museum of vertebrate zoology, 1907-39. Social studies of science, 19(3), 387–420.Google Scholar
  33. Stevens, G., Pipek, V., & Wulf, V. (2009). Appropriation infrastructure: Supporting the design of usages. In Proceedings of 2nd International Symposium on EUD (pp. 50–69).Google Scholar
  34. Stevens, G., Veith, M., & Wulf, V. (2005). Bridging among ethnic communities by cross-cultural communities of practice. In Proceedings of C&T (pp. 377–396).Google Scholar
  35. Tanenbaum, J. J. G., Williams, A. M., Desjardins, A., & Tanenbaum, K. (2013). Democratizing technology: pleasure, utility and expressiveness in DIY and maker practice. In Proceedings of CHI (pp. 2603–2612).Google Scholar
  36. Troxler, P. (2013). Making the third industrial revolution—the struggle for polycentric structures and a new peer-production commons in the FabLab community. In J. Walter-Herrmann & C. Büching (Eds.), FabLabs: Of machines, makers and inventors.Google Scholar
  37. von Hippel, E. (1988). Users as innovators. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. von Rekowski, T., Boden, A., Stickel, O., Hornung, D., & Stevens, G. (2014). Playful, collaborative approaches to 3D modeling and 3D printing. In Proceedings of Mensch und Computer (pp. 363–366).Google Scholar
  39. Weibert, A., Marshall, A., Aal, K., Schubert, K., & Rode, J. (2014). Sewing interest in E-textiles: Analyzing making from a gendered perspective. In Proceedings of DIS (pp. 15–24). New York: ACM.Google Scholar
  40. Weibert, A., & Schubert, K. (2010). How the social structure of intercultural computer clubs fosters interactive storytelling. In Proceedings of IDC (pp. 368–371).Google Scholar
  41. Willis, K. D. D., & Gross, M. D. (2011). Interactive fabrication: New interfaces for digital fabrication. In Proceedings of TEI (pp. 69–72).Google Scholar
  42. Wulf, V., Aal, K., Abu Kteish, I., Atam, M., Schubert, K., Rohde, M., Yerousis, G. P., & Randall, D. (2013). Fighting against the wall. In Proceedings of CHI (pp. 1979–1988).Google Scholar
  43. Wulf, V., Müller, C., Pipek, V., Randall, D., & Rohde, M. (2015). Practice-based computing. In V. Wulf, K. Schmidt, & D. Randall (Eds.), Designing socially embedded technologies in the real world. London: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Yerousis, G., Aal, K., Rekowski, T. V., Randall, D. W., Rohde, M., & Wulf, V. (2015). Computer-enabled project spaces: Connecting with Palestinian refugees across camp boundaries. In Proceedings of CHI (pp. 1979–1988).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Stickel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dominik Hornung
    • 1
  • Konstantin Aal
    • 1
  • Markus Rohde
    • 1
    • 2
  • Volker Wulf
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SiegenSiegenGermany
  2. 2.International Institute for Socio-informaticsBonnGermany

Personalised recommendations