What is a MakerSpace?
MakerSpaces have spread from inner-city Boston to rural India, from South Africa to the North of Norway. Activities in MakerSpaces range from technological empowerment to peer-to-peer project-based technical training to local problem-solving to small-scale high-tech business incubation to grass-roots research. Projects being developed and produced in MakerSpaces include solar and wind-powered turbines, thin-client computers and wireless data networks, analytical instrumentation for agriculture and healthcare, custom housing, and rapid-prototyping of rapid-prototyping machines.
MakerSpaces share core capabilities, so that people and projects can be shared across them.This currently includes:
- A computer-controlled laser cutter, for press-fit assembly of 3D structures from 2D parts
- A larger (4’x8’) numerically-controlled milling machine, for making furniture- (and house-)
- sized parts
- A sign cutter, to produce printing masks, flexible circuits, and antennas
- A precision (micron resolution) milling machine to make three-dimensional molds and
- surface-mount circuit boards
- Programming tools for low-cost high-speed embedded processors
These work with components and materials optimized for use in the field, and are controlled with
custom software for integrated design, manufacturing, and project management.
A MakerSpace is a place where ingenuity and creativity can be put to advanced skills. A MakerSpace can teach students STEM related topics and give in-depth insight into problem solving, design, and creative thinking. The projects done in a MakerSpace require multiple machines for specific purposes. Using a variety of approaches, the right tool can be used to solve a specific problem. This type of learning creates an atmosphere of inventive ideas, technology based learning, encouragement, and fun. The hands-on nature of the lab itself adds to classroom learning. Skills can be practically put to use teaching also about materials science and how technology can achieve objectives.
While the projects done in the MakerSpace cover a variety of topics, it also fosters a sense of invention and ingenuity. When combined with a healthy curiosity for technology, STEM based learning programs grow. This creates a broad understanding of technology among students generating collaboration and interest. Adding a MakerSpace will teach job and life skills that can encourage students to start thinking about jobs, entrepreneurial ambitions or higher education.