Maker Space: any time, anywhere

Learn how you can create a maker environment without a Maker Space.

Maker Spaces are cool, creative playgrounds in which ideas evolve from sketches to prototypes to real products. Scattered across reclaimed spaces like empty warehouses and corners of libraries, tools to cut wood, weld metal, sew fabric and solder electronics empower people to make things.

As a result, a youth maker movement is underway as this sense of empowerment, amongst other things, is important to youth development. Like the maker movement as a whole, youth Maker Spaces are starting to develop in various places. However, unlike general Maker Spaces, youth makers often do not have access to the same resources and spaces. Fortunately, a maker environment can be created anywhere with a few of these tips:

  • Let youth choose their own adventure. Make sure youth can choose what projects they want to work on. This might decide on a long-term creation or enjoy working at different project stations where there is always something new to try.
  • Make, make and make again. Encourage recreating and refining a project. Informal feedback from peers, self-reflection or even a formal presentation can all encourage remaking a project to be even better.
  • Low tech, less hovering. Although youth might have adults beat when it comes to digital technology, adults still can be pretty nervous about a minor firing up a jigsaw. Try to find less risky tools that accomplish the same task so adults will feel comfortable standing across the room rather than over the young person’s shoulder. Be willing to train and trust youth around more risky apparatuses.
  • Dump out the junk drawer —onto the table, not into the trash. Especially when creating physical items, the process takes a lot of…stuff. Items in a junk drawer that often go unused can be great resources in the maker process. Recyclables also make great prototypes and can often be recycled afterwards. In addition, scraps and leftovers from other projects might be just what a new project needs.

Consider how you make use of some or all of these strategies in projects and programs you support. Michigan 4-H and Michigan State University Extension have various curricula and resources that embrace maker concepts like entrepreneurship, science, technology and experiential learning.

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