Gokul Krishnan, PhD, is a learning scientist, mechanical engineer, healthcare innovator, and STEM Research Associate at WestEd. He is the founder of Project [email protected] (Makerspace at Children's Hospital) and the creator of the "Maker Therapy" approach. Krishnan designed and constructed the world's first mobile Makerspaces, which help to address the needs of chronically ill patients at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. His inspirational “think-outside-the-box” attitude towards learning in an unconventional setting like a children’s hospital has contributed to frequent media exposure (e.g., interviews with CBS Evening News,NPR’s “All Things Considered”, Fast Company, Popular Mechanics), numerous awards (e.g., the White House’s “Honorary Maker” Award), and several prominent speaking engagements (e.g., Cannes Lion Health, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Cognizant Women Empowered Executive Forums). With the help of the Maker Therapy model, Krishnan is on a mission to create a more hopeful world for children living with chronic illnesses.
Gokul Krishnan, PhD
Learning Scientist; Mechanical Engineer; Healthcare Innovator; STEM Research Associate at WestEd
Gokul Krishnan, PhD, is a learning scientist, mechanical engineer, healthcare innovator, and STEM Research Associate at WestEd. He is the founder of Project [email protected] (Makerspace at Children’s Hospital) and the creator of the “Maker Therapy” approach.
From an educational standpoint, the maker movement has immense potential to serve as a powerful vehicle for engaging and stimulating young learners in the increasingly important fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). As a result, Makerspaces are sprouting up in all sorts of learning environments, from formal settings like schools, to informal settings such as libraries and museums, and now even in the unconventional setting of a children’s hospital, where many young patients lack access to authentic learning activities commonly afforded to students in schools. Dr. Gokul Krishnan created a mobile Makerspace, a new psychosocial learning environment, designed specifically for hospitalized chronically ill patients who are required to repeatedly spend several days or weeks isolated in their hospital rooms undergoing treatment.
The healthcare industry can learn a lot from Maker thinking…or, what I like to call: “Maker Mentalities.” I came up with the term Maker Mentality in my research, when I noticed that patients who engaged with the mobile Makerspace adopted a highly varied set of positions with respect to designing and making. This kind of mindset stimulated patients’ creativity, improved their mental health, had a positive effect on their confidence and sense of empowerment, and, in some cases, even showed signs of helping to improve their physical health and well-being (e.g. seven and a half fold increase in physical activity). What people from the healthcare marketing space can adopt from these Maker Mentalities is a greater appreciation of the symbiotic relationships between different elements of healthcare. For example, a greater appreciation of the marriage of physical health, mental health, and even emotional health, in terms of sparking creativity, bolstering confidence, and forging a new sense of personal identity. Maker Mentalities urges one to think differently about health care — thinking in terms of the interconnectedness of the relationships between elements rather than each one in isolation, and avoiding the compartmentalization of these elements by choosing to take a more holistic approach to healthcare in general.