Maker Space, a buzzword in education these days are all the trend currently. But what are maker spaces? Are they just about cool looking gadgets and new technology? Or are they something more. This post is all about looking deep under the standard definition of a maker space- a collaborative work space with all the latest tools and technology- and unraveling the mystery of maker spaces layer by layer.
The first layer of all maker spaces is what it has. For a layman or even for many who are users or consumers of maker spaces, it is a room or a building with just tools and technology. It is synonymous to the machinery and gadgets it has. The maker space checklist here is all about getting your hands on new technology. Some of the things you would definitely see are 3D printers, woodworking power tools, some Raspi stations and Drones– or technically correct Quad-copters. But that’s just the top layer.
If you judge any maker space with only the things it contains, you may lose onto its real purpose.
That brings us to the next layer, the people. The users of the space. Who uses it? Who is it intended for? Is it for an engineer working on a prototype or that 17-year-old who writes and breathes code but is tongue-tied in a day to day conversation, or is it for a 50-year-old something trying to revive an old passion by picking up the chisel and hammer or is it for the kid who likes to open up toys rather than play with them, or is it for someone trying to learn something new? The answer to this question is, it is for EVERYONE.
Everyone who likes to get their hand dirty, everyone who remembers what it feels like to make something with your hand and to see it come into shape, to take a form, even if it was a scribble.
When we talk about people, we often forget to talk about the ones who are behind them, people who build these spaces. Someone put all that machinery there, someone bought that 3D printer and that really cool jigsaw. Who are these people? Why are they doing what they are doing? Why did they start it? One must remember, a maker space is also a creation. Each maker space in the world was started by someone who had a vision to build a place like this- maybe it’s just a profit-earning initiative or maybe it is a place that aspires to change how learning looks like or maybe it is both. Whatever the vision is, it goes a long way in determining the journey of the space itself and everyone in it.
That brings us to the last layer, the hidden one, the overlooked one- Culture.
Maker Spaces are not just places where people come, meet and create something. They are culture ponds. From young students to trained engineers, when you enter a maker space, you transcend all these distinctions- Gender,Race, Age, Ethnicity, Profession- nothing matters because inside it you are defined with a single title- maker.
A maker space can only be driven with a culture of sharing, helping out, lending a hand and getting your hands dirty when needed and fixing something that needs to be fixed, because those are the values that are central to being a maker. As an individual, you learn patience, perseverance, and most importantly you develop a work ethic and as a member of the makers community you learn how to work with each other, how to think, how to critique and how to ask for help and help when required.