An Introduction to Making
A makerspace is a place that furnishes a variety of tools, technology, and resources that enable users to simply create. They may house computer labs; 3D printers, electronics labs with soldering irons and milling machines; workshops with miter saws, drill presses, and machinery; recording studios; arts and craft resources, and sewing machines. Even bio makerspaces are emerging. General makerspaces are popping up all over in libraries, schools, and warehouses. They are sometimes referred to as hackerspaces (hack being referred to in a positive connotation with clever solutions). You may have also heard of high-tech fab labs, which are protyping platforms that stimulate technology-driven invention and innovation by entrepreneurs and start-up businesses.
These makerspaces promote creativity and inspiration, make connections, and facilitate collaboration in social places. Makerspaces celebrate community and are breeding grounds for invention and innovation. As creative people gather from different disciplines, they work in shared spaces as they produce their diverse projects. This platform allows for discovery, inspiration, and cooperation in problem solving and combining crafts.
One of the fantastic things about makerspaces is that they are tremendous resources to those who cannot afford to buy all the equipment needed to manufacture their own creations. These spaces can enable anyone with the desire to make things to do so. They provide accessibility to technology at the communities’ fingertips. A person who has a great idea can design, build, and prototype products alone or work with others for dream realization.
The short video below provides a snap shot of different types of makers.
The maker movement (the push to create makerspaces in communities everywhere) coincides with the push for more STEM and STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) education. They all go hand in hand and support each other through project-based learning. Watch the video below to see how this youngster becomes fully connected in the engineering process within a makerspace.
People are inventing things and sharing designs for free. Open software and designs available on Thingiverse.com and GrabCAD.com enable anyone to 3D print many different objects or tools. One of the more amazing applications of this open-sharing is the grassroots effort led by e-NABLE to 3D print prosthetic limbs for children around the globe. Anyone with access to a 3D printer can assist kids in need in their region by simply printing hand designs, and volunteers assemble the parts for the recipient. This is sometimes done in schools and libraries. The short video below gives an overview of this program.
Take a look around to see if there are any makerspaces in your community and drop in for a visit. What you find may just surprise you and inspire you to want to make something too!
For those who would like to learn more about setting up makerspaces, check out these fine resources:
Keep you eyes and ears open for MakerFaires, Maker Festivals, and Makercons in your area which are very exciting events and will give you a good taste of what it is all about. Check out this List of Upcoming MakerFaires around the world.
Although the video below is long, it provides good insights into the future: Congressman Mark Tokano discusses with the School Library Journal how the maker movement has the potential to drive the economy.