15

October 2014

Makerspaces Are On My Mind

James Floyd Kelly, Geek Dad

Education, Entrepreneurship, Maker Education, Makerspace, STEAM

Makerspace 1

Fresh from a great experience at the Atlanta Maker Faire a few weekends ago and a recent meeting with a few representatives from my small town’s government and public library, I’m feeling very optimistic about the opportunities the Maker Movement is generating for Atlanta-area kids. It seems that a critical mass is being reached in Atlanta with a number of new makerspaces popping up in the last few years… one very new one just a ten minute drive from my home (but in another suburb/town surrounding Atlanta). This idea of people coming together to share tools and knowledge, demonstrate techniques and skills, and create an environment that welcomes others to join the fun… that’s a place I want to be.

With kids of my own (ages 7 and 4), I’m also very interested in anything that can help me light a fire with my children and get them stretching their creativity. For this reason, I’m not only reaching out to others in my hometown to try and get a makerspace off the ground but I’m also doing my best to make certain it’s kid-friendly. Most makerspaces strive to be places that kids will feel safe and welcome, but let’s be honest… many makerspaces are decidedly adult-oriented and can be intimidating to children. This isn’t a condemnation of these kinds of makerspaces — simply an observation that it’s adults that typically start a makerspace and the environment typically forms with adults in mind. My hope is to find a place and a method for making kids feel invited, safe, and comfortable to explore and be creative.

Maker Station

At the Atlanta Maker Faire a few weekends back, I got to meet one new makerspace and I’d like to send some traffic their way… maybe even some new members. The Maker Station is located in Marietta, Georgia… here’s a link to their website. You can find details about their meeting times, lots of photos, and reach out to contacts who can get you more details. Best of luck to The Maker Station, and it was so great to meet many of your members at Atlanta Maker Faire. I’ll be planning a visit very soon!

Maker Space 2

And speaking of makerspaces trying to get off the ground, I’d like to make a personal plea to our geek dads and moms out there to check out a new Kickstarter for a makerspace in Cambridge, Mass. Sponsored by The Possible Project, this is an established organization that is making real progress in taking high schoolers and giving them additional training and skills with its after school programs. Now they’re wanting to outfit their organization with a fully functional makerspace complete with a professional-level laser cutter. This cutter will be one of the major draws of the makerspace, and will give these students access to a tool that will allow them to develop, prototype, and then produce retail-level products to go along with their entrepreneur training.

This is a Kickstarter I can get behind — I may not see the physical benefits (although I’d love to have access to this cutter!) but these kids are hopefully going to be the future business leaders and engineers who will be responsible for new innovations… benefits that can help us all. They’re 50% to their goal… at the time of this writing, they need another $20k. $20,000. If 5000 geek dads and moms can each chip in $5.00… they’re golden. I’m backing… will you? Here’s a link to the Kickstarter and the organization behind it, The Possible Project. Best of luck to The Possible Project’s team and the students who will be gaining access to this incredible makerspace!

Source: “Makerspaces are on my Mind”, https://goo.gl/eDg7W0, Geek Dad, 15 Oct. 2014.

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