What is a Makerspace

The first of the three spaces will be dedicated to the act of creation, our makerspace. While workshops have been a big part of history, they have generally been driven by s single purpose.  Chef’s have their kitchens.  Carpenters; their wood shops.  Musicians; their studios.  Makerspaces seem to differ in two important ways.  First they are communal, a space for people to work together.  Second, they first look for tools with wide application before narrow applications.  Gui Cavalcanti provided a short introduction into the rise of the makerspace in an article for Make magazine:

The concept of a “hackerspace” started in Europe as a collection of programmers (i.e., the traditional use of the term “hacker”) sharing a physical space.  As this concept spread, it outgrew its roots of hacking existing objects and began to enable its members to craft in the most significant extent possible.  Reclassified Makerspaces, these spaces were designed around the crafts it focused upon not just as an after-thought.  These spaces have grown and become places for people to share the tools and skills to give ideas physical form.  In addition to supporting communities and allowing individuals to express themselves, several of the most exciting new companies have emerged from makerspaces, including Pebble, Square and Makerbot.[i]

It is common for a space to start with a single tool– a laser cutter, a 3D printer or even just a single hot glue gun. It’s a tangible budget item that creates tangible pieces that are easy to understand.  (A few traits that administrators can easily get behind)  In many ways, our space started with a grant for Makerbot 2X two years ago.  While I had researched and worked with 3D printing before, it was still a challenge to integrate it into our curriculum.  My grandfather once told me that, “If you love your hammer, everything’s gonna look like a nail.”  And I that’s what I first felt.  I looked for ways to integrate the 3D printer in all aspects of my school.  I think this is really true in all aspects of ed tech.  Derek Mueller might say it best in his Education Revolution video.  (see below).

It really sticks that we must focus not on the tools but on how we learn.  Why should we spend $2000 dollars on a 3D printer when we could make the same things with $2 of Legos?  Do you need the accuracy and single unit design to prototype ideas?  I will say 99% of the time in education we don’t.  So while, I will present a detailed and technical budget in future posts, I think a makerspace could be made productive and life changing with some knockoff Legos, paper, scissors, glue and some nine volt batteries.

It you want a makerspace, clear a table and get started making.



[i] http://makezine.com/2013/05/22/the-difference-between-hackerspaces-makerspaces-techshops-and-fablabs/