When you think about the term makerspace, it’s hard to put an exact definition to the word — not even Merriam-Webster has one. To the fabricators of the world, it’s a cornucopia of invention. To the programmers, it’s a hub of genius and collaboration. For woodworkers, it’s an oasis of sawdust and 24 Grit sandpaper. To the makers, it’s an opportunity to explore the depths of your creative imagination. Depending on what you love and what you want to discover, “makerspace” can mean two completely different things to any two people.
It’s this impossible-to-define definition that makes makerspaces so unique — they can be anything you want them to be! With so many options, opportunities and paths to take your makerspace down, it’s easy to get lost in trying to find exactly what’s best for you, your students and your space. This is okay! Your space should evolve as quickly as the technologies it utilizes. Let your makerspace sprout into something new, and as it grows, mold it into the best learning environment it can be. If you look at the most popular makerspaces around the globe, they aren’t full of the newest and shiniest equipment — while they do help — they’re full of ideas. They’re adaptable.
As examples, in no particular order, here are some of our favorite, unique and adaptable makerspaces from around the nation.
Sector67 is a Community Workspace, Hackerspace, Makerspace and Collaborative Environment in Madison, WI, dedicated to providing members the opportunity to work on tomorrow’s technology. Focused on building, collaborating, learning and teaching about next generation devices, it’s an environment for anyone looking to work and discover new ideas.
Open to all ages and holding equipment for welding, casting, plastics, mechanical, automotive, woodworking, 3D printing, electrical, art, textiles and laser cutting, they’re the one-stop-shop for anyone looking to explore the world around them through technology.
The Salmon Public Library is a nonprofit located in Salmon, Idaho. As one of the most remote towns with over 2,000 residence in the lower 48 states, they’re dreaming big of building an incredible learning community.
As they say:
We want to take our students from a 4-day school week to a 5th-day learning movement and encourage the community to relieve some of the burdens from the schools by using the talent and resources within our community to leverage this opportunity.
(With the goal to) provide a free accessible space to our community that encourages not only youth but families as a whole, to engage in a facilitated environment of making. (They) want to honor the traditional arts that exist in the community by inviting those craftsmen to mentor the youth while at the same time absorbing what the student knows about emerging technologies.
You can learn more about the Salmon Public Library Community Makerspace here:
A great idea might have seed in one person's mind, but it could never take flight without the power of many who believe in it. Help be the many who believe in me to steward this journey, help be the many who believe in a child who doesn't have the space to create, but who has aspirations to be an inventor, help be the many who believe in our town and the magic it possesses, help be the many who bring about the opportunity to dream.
"A place for people with hobbies bigger than their houses."
Milwaukee Makerspace, at its heart, is a place for people who like to build, invent, tinker and/or learn new skills and expand their minds. Their members have a wide range of skill sets, and they encourage a community aspect where, at a crossroads, you are able to find someone who can talk about most any technical concept with you in a meaningful way. They are a physical space where you can come, 24/7, as a member, and have access to a wide array of equipment.
The Milwaukee Makerspace aims to foster a community of makers by providing an environment in terms of people, equipment and space that supports the creative process and personal growth. Modern software, the Internet and economies of scale have all come together to allow ordinary people with a little bit of know-how to begin blurring the lines between manufacturer and consumer. With some effort and the help of a growing community of makers, it is possible for a lone individual to make things of amazing quality and functionality.
In their space, you’ll find people into electronics, robots, woodworking, embedded software, metalworking (including welding, forging and casting) music, art, video, photography, electric cars, sewing, textiles, printing and much more.
Having people pursuing their interests in close proximity to one another leads to a lot of productively, personal satisfaction and some amazing collaborative projects.
“FamiLAB’s mission is to be a community that fosters learning and creativity through hands-on projects, collaboration, and the sharing of skills & tools to improve ourselves and enrich the world around us.”
Following the philosophies of the worldwide hackerspace* movement, FamiLAB seeks to be a diverse community where people of various backgrounds can come together to teach and learn. They provide a space, tools and a community of geeks for you to utilize. Their current tools include hand tools, basic power tools, soldering stations, 3D printers and a laser cutter. Interests among current members range from abstract mathematics to microcontrollers, iPhone and Android application programming, Arduino design and coding, PCB design, FPGA design, Quadracopters, etc.
As Central Florida’s provider of space, tools and community for creative technical learning and projects, it’s the best place to meet like-minded people, learn, collaborate on projects and have access to great tools!
FamiLAB welcomes makers, artists, thinkers, hackers, crafters and everyone else — come wield your imagination in any (legal and ethical) way you see fit. Think of FamiLAB as a club for geeks! Whether you are an art geek, hardware geek, photography geek, code geek, lab geek, or any geek in between–we would like you to join us at the lab and teach a class, lead a lecture, or simply work on a project while surrounded by awesome people. If you can think of it, come build and share it the lab.
The EdventuresLAB is our very own maker program. Starting in the 1980s when our teacher-founder started doing hands-on STEM education out of his garage before anyone had even heard the word STEM, now, nearly 30 years later, the EdventuresLAB programs span the globe with students learning robotics, engineering, electronics, video production, computer programming and much more in engaging, active environments designed from the ground up to stimulate and activate young minds.
Delivering a multi-year engineering and technology experience for students, the EdventuresLAB focuses on introducing the how and why of engineering, technology, communications, collaboration and problem-solving. These real-world skills are practiced and used in every LAB session, preparing students for successful careers regardless of the field.
Small Factory Productions recognizes the important role of the arts and technology in the healthy development of a child’s brain. Children of all ages and abilities thrive, both socially and academically, in a comfortable environment where the freedom to create and play are encouraged. A child’s imagination is a powerful tool when celebrated and allowed to flourish.
Small Factory offers captivating, interactive experiences in rewards-based arts and technology camps, classes, and workshops for preschoolers to young adults. Small Factory’s space is based on a professional television and music production studio setup and combines traditional art, music, and storytelling with cutting-edge software.
Small Factory’s programming meets National and State Standards for Language Arts Literacy, Technology, Mathematics and Visual and Performing Arts. In 2014 alone, more than a thousand students participated in programs at the Small Factory NJ studio and at more than 60 schools, colleges, and hospitals across the region.
Here's their founder, Chris Dudick speaking about maker education with TEDX:
Looking for more? In one week, tune into The Magnificent Makerspace Webinar on June 7th and automatically be entered to win a fischertechnik 3D Printer!
Just can't get enough makerspace content? Check out the Your Journey to a Magnificent Makerspace blog!
EdventuresLAB. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2017, from https://edventureslab.com/
FamiLAB. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2017, from https://familab.org/
Milwaukee Makerspace. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2017, from https://milwaukeemakerspace.org/
Open Education Database. (2017, February 22). The 4 Flavors of Makerspaces. Retrieved May 31, 2017, from http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/4-flavors-makerspaces/
Sector 67. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2017, from http://www.sector67.org/blog/
Small Factory Productions. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2017, from http://mysmallfactory.com/
Stratter, J. (n.d.). Salmon Public Library Community Makerspace. Retrieved May 31, 2017, from https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/salmon-public-library-community-makerspace
Chief Author and Editor of Creative Content