What is a Makerspace? Ultimate Introduction to Makerspaces in Education
What are the core skillsets required in the twenty-first century? Creativity, digital literacy, and collaboration are all essential skills in modern society. As we prepare our children for a bright future, they need to be equipped with these skills not just by studying at school but also by exploring extracurricular resources that offer an environment to engage them with new technological and creative skills. Those resources can be found in places like libraries, museums, and makerspaces.
Today, we are going to explore what makerspace is. Why has this concept shot fame in recent years? And if you are interested in it, how to set up a makerspace if you're an educator or how to choose the best makerspace for your children if you're a parent?
1. What is a Makerspace?
What exactly is a maker? The word comes from the word Hacker/Maker, referring to a person who works to turn ideas into reality. The content of makers' activities is often quite technically challenging and knowledge-intensive, which is regarded as a new way of knowledge transfer.
And so what a makerspace is? According to Merriam-Webster, a makerspace is a communal public workshop in which makers can work on small personal projects. According to Wikipedia, makerspace, also called hackerspace, is a community-operated workspace where people with common interests, such as computers, machining, technology, science, digital art, or electronic art, can meet, socialize, and collaborate. To put it simply, it is a location where creators can bring their ideas to life by producing various things.
2. Why We Should Set up a Makerspace
As the saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child." This means that everyone must contribute to the well-being of children. Building makerspaces in the educational field is mainly for children's all-rounded development. As we have mentioned above, makerspace cultivates creativity, digital literacy, and collaboration. Except for those skills, maker education provides more value than we could imagine.Here are several reasons why establishing a makerspace can be a valuable endeavor:
Promotes Hands-On Learning: Makerspaces facilitate experiential learning, where students and learners can apply theoretical knowledge in a practical context. This approach often leads to better retention and understanding of complex concepts.
Encourages Creativity and Innovation: By providing access to tools and resources, makerspaces inspire individuals to create, innovate, and solve problems in new ways. This fosters a culture of entrepreneurship and can lead to the development of new products, services, or artistic expressions.
Develops Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills: Working on projects in a makerspace requires individuals to think critically, plan, and troubleshoot, which are essential skills in STEM fields and beyond.
Supports STEM Education: Makerspaces can be a powerful tool for engaging students in STEM subjects, particularly those who may not be traditionally drawn to these areas. They can help bridge the gap between theory and application, making STEM subjects more accessible and exciting.
Community Engagement: Makerspaces can serve as community hubs, bringing together people of different ages, backgrounds, and interests. This fosters a sense of community and can lead to collaborative projects and shared learning experiences.
3. Great Makerspaces Around the World
3.1 Chaos Computer Club
Chaos Computer Club (CCC) is the largest association of hackers in Europe. It was founded in 1981 and is considered the world's first-ever makerspace. The organization is dedicated to providing information on technical and societal issues, such as surveillance, privacy, freedom of information, hacktivism, data security, and other intriguing topics related to technology and hacking.
Etalab is a hackerspace located in Vienna's central first district. It was founded in 2006 and serves as a meeting place for the Viennese tech community. The space hosts a variety of events, ranging from cultural festivals to user groups. Over the years, Etalab has played a pivotal role in the global hackerspace movement and has been the birthplace of several internet startup companies.
In 2008, Mitch Altman, who is often referred to as the "godfather of makers," founded Noisebridge. After attending the Chaos Communication Camp in Germany in 2007, Altman was inspired to establish a similar venue in the United States. Eventually, he set up Noisebridge in San Francisco.
Noisebridge is a community that values openness, freedom, and mutual assistance. It operates in a well-organized manner, despite appearing somewhat chaotic - much like an open-source community. The space itself is small, slightly old and messy, and even has a workshop named "Dirty Room". However, it provides access to everything you can imagine in a makerspace, such as cutting and welding tools, 3D printers, computers, foosball, vending machines, and a kitchenette.
Noisebridge operates as an open space that allows individuals to enter without paying a membership fee or signing up for a course, and get started with their work right away. However, those who wish to become full-time members must go through a rigorous application process that includes receiving recommendations from at least two current members. Once accepted, a full-time member is responsible for the maintenance, improvement, and management of the space.
TechShop is the largest maker space chain in the United States, currently operating stores in seven cities with plans to expand to other major cities. Compared with Noisebridge, it is a company that generates revenue through membership fees and fee-based courses. For a monthly fee of $125, TechShop provides members with access to tools, equipment, teaching, and support staff required to bring their creative ideas to life.
The facility is equipped with various machines such as milling machines, lathes, welding tables, ion-cutting machines, sheet metal processing equipment, drilling machines, saws, industrial sewing machines, hand tools, plastic processing equipment, and more. Members are free to use this equipment and participate in technology-sharing courses.
4. Must-haves in a Makerspace
After showing you some successful makerspaces, are you interested in this concept? If yes, would you like to learn more about makerspaces? Now, follow me to see the necessities of a makerspace. Those recommendations may be helpful for educators who are searching for good equipment in your makerspace, and a good reference for parents looking for a better makerspace for their kids.Here are some must-have items for a well-rounded makerspace:
After purchasing materials, a makerspace requires basic hand tools and power tools to improve members' hands-on skills. Here are some fundamental tools, but keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list.
Basic Hand Tool:
Screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, hammers, and other common hand tools.
Measuring tools like rulers, calipers, and tape measures.
Cutting tools such as scissors, utility knives, and box cutters.
Drills, both corded and cordless.
Circular saws, jigsaws, and reciprocating saws.
Sanders, including belt sanders and orbital sanders.
Rotary tools for engraving and polishing.
With all these above, participants in a makerspace could create something from scratch. However, for those who want to explore further into the world of maker culture, there are advanced equipment available for use.
xTool P2 is a desktop-class 55W multi-functional CO2 laser cutting machine. P2 uses CO2 laser tubes, which are more efficient but also more fragile than the D1 Pro, M1, and F1 models. P2 has impressive cutting abilities, boasting 55W high power and 600mm/s high speed. It can cut through 18mm walnut and 20mm acrylic at once.
Furthermore, it provides an array of impressive capabilities, such as the capacity to handle extremely long objects, perform surface processing, and accurately position dual cameras. With its unique through-door design and feeding accessories, P2 can manage materials up to 3 meters in length, making it easier to process large-scale work. Unlike other laser engraving machines, P2 also supports surface processing and automatically generates 3D models of curved objects through the point capture of intelligent cameras. Additionally, the machine adjusts the focal length automatically to ensure that the engraving effect is perfect, even on uneven surfaces.
xTool F1 is a portable laser cutting machine with a 2W 1064nm infrared laser and a 10W 455nm diode laser, making it the king in speed. The diode laser can carve various materials, including wood, leather, ceramics, glass, rock, rubber, and more, while the infrared laser is particularly effective for carving metals such as gold, silver, copper, aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, rubber, and other materials. With the dual laser feature, there are even more options for engraving materials.
Another feature of xTool F1 is its high accuracy. F1 can achieve a motion accuracy of 0.00199mm and a repetition accuracy of 0.000248mm. Thanks to the photoelectric sensor and hypersensitive magnets in F1 galvo system, xTool F1 can quickly respond and correct position signals for the most accurate placement.
Coding Robot Kit
Makeblock mBot Neo
mBot Neo is an ideal option for those who have no experience in coding. It boasts four main features: accurate motion control, emotional expression, speech recognition, and building activities that can be accomplished in under 30 minutes. Its modular design makes it easy to assemble and personalize. With built-in sensors and mentors, mBot Neo can be programmed to follow lines, detect obstacles, and perform various tasks. The robot is compatible with Makeblock's graphical programming platform and mBlock app, which enables makerspace users to learn coding through a drag-and-drop interface.
We can use this coding robot kit to learn coding with the help of an AI-powered, interactive game development tutorial. This coding guide is tailored to complement the experience of using mBot Neo and provides exciting methods to code up to 11 robot and game development projects. As an educator, having mBot Neo in your makerspace saves time and makes coding a fun learning process for kids. Why not?
Makeblock mBot Ultimate
If mBot Neo is the ideal choice for beginners, mBot Ultimate will be a solid choice for those senior robotics hobbyists. As a 10-in-1 robot building kit, you can build more than 10 robots with this kit. In addition, mBot Ultimate features 10 remote control modes for various activities such as driving, picking up objects, shooting balls, and playing games. It is compatible with over 500 Makeblock electronic and mechanical parts, as well as Arduino sensors, LEGO bricks, and Raspberry Pi. This makes it easy to integrate with other machines in a makerspace.
If you are using the mBot Ultimate for coding robotics, it's worth that it is compatible with both block-based and Arduino programming languages. However, if you're interested in programming with Python, there are some preliminary setup steps you'll need to take. These include connecting the mBot Ultimate to a Raspberry Pi and updating its firmware.
Ultimaker S5 is a cutting-edge 3D printer that can transform your prototyping and production processes. Its build volume of 330 x 335 x 297 mm provides ample space for big projects and multiple smaller prints. With the dual extruder system, you can print with two materials simultaneously, making it easy to create complex, multi-material parts.
Furthermore, the heated build plate ensures optimal adhesion and reduces warping, resulting in smoother and more precise prints. The Ultimaker Cura slicer software that comes with the S5 is both user-friendly and powerful, making it easy to prepare your 3D models for printing.
Prusa i3 MK3
Prusa i3 MK3 is a 3D printer that combines the best of open-source innovation with the reliability and performance demanded by professionals and enthusiasts alike. Its sturdy all-metal frame provides a solid foundation for precise movements, ensuring consistent print quality.
Equipped with the renowned E3D V6 hotend, this printer is known for its reliability and excellent print performance. The MK3's heated bed ensures excellent adhesion for various materials, contributing to successful prints every time. Its design allows for easy upgrades and modifications, catering to the needs of both beginners and experienced users.
ShopBot PRSalpha is a CNC router that is known for its reliability and precision. It is suitable for both professionals and hobbyists. With a sturdy frame, PRSalpha ensures long-lasting performance. It can work with a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and composites, making it perfect for different industries.
The high-quality components and design of the PRSalpha ensure smooth operation and precise cuts, resulting in professional-grade results. Upgrade your makerspace with ShopBot PRSalpha and unlock the potential for complex creations and enhanced productivity. Experience the power of CNC technology with precision at your fingertips.
Tormach 1300PL Standard Package
Tormach is a leading manufacturer of precision CNC machines that cater to both hobbyists and professionals. Tormach 1300PL Standard Package is meticulously engineered to ensure accuracy in every cut and detail. They come with intuitive controls and user-friendly software, making them accessible even to those new to CNC technology. Made with high-quality materials and components, Tormach machines are built to last, ensuring long-term reliability and performance.