Rebecca Thompson, ALEC Student, Texas A&M University.
Makerspaces is a creative place for people of all ages to build and learn. These are also spaces for people to try new things and have a safe space to fail and be encouraged to try again. Typically makerspaces are centered around STEM activities but have branched out to include the arts as well. Makerspaces can house various types of tools, machines, toys, and supplies. Makerspaces evolved from the maker movement and hackerspaces. Hackerspaces are places, very similar to makerspaces, that typically focus on computer related building. Hackers and makers are also interchangeable titles but people usually prefer the title maker since hackers have common misconceptions associated with that name (Bardzell, J., Bardzell, S., & Toombs, 2014). The first hackerspace originated in 1995 inside a crashed space station in the middle of Berlin (wiki.hackerspaces.org, 2019).
The information screens for the c-base main hall.
Since then, these spaces have evolved to include CNC machines, 3D printers, and sewing machines with a new name. Makerspaces, the name, specifically came from the maker movement. Makers have been around for thousands of years with the start of mankind. People used to tinker in their garages or places of work and invent things like electricity, cars, and computers. Although being a maker is not a new term, the maker movement is fairly new and originated in California with MAKER magazine hosting “maker faires” in various cities (“A Brief History of Makerspaces”, n.d.). The “maker faires” then inspired permanent locations to be built for a makerspace to stay in one place and serve its community.
Photo taken from: https://www.sparkfun.com/news/1218
A soldering booth at a local maker faire in Colorado.
Makerspaces are completely free or have a fee associated with it. Makerspaces are very common inside public libraries and schools since they are a great tool to let kids’ explorer woodworking, sewing, robot building, soldering, coding, and building and creating new things with Legos and other art supplies. 4-H clubs are now creating makerspaces to assist in their robotics clubs and other activities. Other organizations include FabLab. This is an organization that has free days where you can attend a workshop and learn about a new machine or a membership option that allows open access to the space (fablabhouston.org, n.d.). Makerspaces.make.co and Fablabs.io are great resources to learn where Makerspaces are located in and around your area. In Texas, there are close to 30 Makerspaces across the state (Makerspaces.make.co, 2019).
Makerspace is everywhere. Almost all 4-H clubs already have makerspaces but they do not have the term makerspace associated with them. Utah State University did a study on Makerspaces within their own 4-H clubs. The pilot project in Utah staged two Makerspaces in two different communities: one was a summer camp, and the other was an afterschool program. What they learned from this pilot project was the following: (taken directly from the Journal of Extension “4-H and the Maker Movement” article).
In order to create a Makerspace, follow these three steps:
Photo taken from: https://www.extedtechs.org/making-and-tinkering-in-4-h-part-i/
The turn of the 21st century has signaled a shift in what types of skillsets have real, applicable value in a rapidly advancing world. The question of how to renovate or repurpose learning environments to address the needs of the future is being answered through the concept of makerspaces, or workshops that offer tools and the learning experiences needed to help people carry out their ideas. 47 Makerspaces are intended to appeal to people of all ages, and are founded on openness to experiment, iterate, and create. In this landscape, creativity, design, and engineering are at the forefront of educational considerations, as tools such as 3D printers, robotics, and 3D modelling web-based applications become accessible to more people. For Cooperative Extension programs, makerspaces are a natural fit because they are hands-on and skills-oriented by nature.48 Professionals looking to gain actionable knowledge can learn with the tools they will be using in their careers, while community members have the opportunity to experiment with equipment as they develop their passions and career goals.
Makerspaces can bolster collaborations between extension educators and community leaders to develop hands-on programs with 21st century tools, making them available to people in rural areas that otherwise would not have access. Makerspaces equipped with technologies and construction supplies are all-purpose workshops that represent the power of creation in both the virtual and physical world. Pedagogies (the method and practice of teaching) such as inquiry-based learning and design thinking, which encourage construction and higher-order thinking, can be carried out in makerspaces, leading to greater economic development.
Brunswick County Extension in North Carolina is developing a makerspace for local youth and their families. In addition to sewing machines and materials for sewing project groups, a greenhouse and garden space will be available. There are also plans to add computer programming activities, 3D printers, and drones: go.nmc.org/bruns. The eXtension Foundation recently hosted the webcast “Building and Managing Makerspaces in Extension” to help their land-grant educator and volunteer network foster authentic learning opportunities within their communities: go.nmc.org/webca. The Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Makers program encourages inventiveness in STEM subjects for youth through camps and events. Additionally, the program trains professionals and volunteers how to facilitate their own makerspaces: go.nmc.org/virg.
A Brief History of Makerspaces. (2018, June 29). Retrieved December 2, 2019, from https://curiositycommons.wordpress.com/a-brief-history-of-makerspaces/.
Base. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://wiki.hackerspaces.org/C-base.
Base Spacestation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/cbase.raumstation/photos/a.167669046626905/1705369316190196/?type=3&theater.
Fab Lab Houston. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2, 2019, from https://fablabhouston.org/.
Freeman, A., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M. (2016). NMC Technology Outlook for Cooperative Extension 2016-2021: A Horizon Project Sector Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Grady, E., & Utc. (n.d.). Calling All Colorado Makers – NoCo Mini Maker Faire. Retrieved from https://www.sparkfun.com/news/1218.
Hill, P. (2016, February 29). Making and Tinkering in 4-H: Part I. Retrieved from https://www.extedtechs.org/making-and-tinkering-in-4-h-part-i/.
Hill, P. A., Francis, D. W., & Peterson, G. L. (2015). Journal of Extension. 4-H And the Maker Movement, 53(October). Retrieved from https://joe.org/joe/2015october/comm1.php
Labs: FabLabs. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2, 2019, from https://www.fablabs.io/labs.