Makerspace: A Favorite of Creative Students by Noah Ehrman
In January 2005, Dale Dougherty published the first issue of Make: magazine. This is often seen as the start of the maker movement. The magazine features a wide variety of DIY projects involving computers, robotics, woodworking, metalworking and several other disciplines.
The next year, in 2006, Dougherty started the Maker Faire – an annual festival for makers and DIY culture. At this event, “makers” are encouraged to show off their projects and share what they learned while working on them. The Maker Faire helped to bring the maker movement further into the spotlight by giving makers a physical place to display their creations.
Makerspaces themselves date back even further than Doughtery’s contributions. Before Doughtery popularized the term maker, these spaces went under various names such as hackerspaces and fab labs. These spaces grew in popularity quickly, propelled by advances in digital fabrication, ease of access to new technology and humanity’s drive to create.
Public libraries and schools have become popular locations for makerspaces, with the local Allen County Public Library and some FWCS schools following suit, including Snider’s media center.
Ms. Fish said Snider’s makerspace is “a place where students can learn new things and create new things with a variety of materials.”
In this corner of Snider’s library lies the tools needed for everything from drawing to 3D printing to robotics. All of these materials are neatly organized into labeled blue tubs on shelves that separate the space from the rest of the library. Past projects made by students are proudly displayed around the space, with some spreading to nearby bookshelves and tables.
One of the most used features of the space is the 3D pen: a device that melts and cools plastic to allow its users to “draw” 3D shapes by hand. The intuitive nature and simple operation of this device makes it an easy favorite for users new and old. Designs built with this pen have already filled Ms. Fish’s glass display and continue to spread across the space.
Robotics are also popular at the makerspace, with several different types of robots ranging from large Lego Mindstorms to smaller Ozobots available for use.
Makerspace user David Lothamer’s favorite feature of the space is a set of cube-based robots called Cubelets.
“You can do a lot of stupid stuff with them … Stupid, but interesting,” he said.
Each Cubelet serves a specific purpose, such as taking input through a button, spinning the machine with a motor or providing power as a battery. These Cubelets can be attached to each other to accomplish more advanced goals. In a quick demo, Lothamer combined a light, motor and knob to create a spinning flashlight that changed its speed based on the position of the knob.
Another student, Luke Rolling is a fan of the Sphero robots available. These ball-shaped robots can be controlled wirelessly through an app on phones and tablets. Because of their pick-up-and-go nature, Sphero robots can often be seen rolling around the space.
Students are able to visit the makerspace before school, starting at 8:30, during class with a pass from their teacher or during their lunch.
Ms. Fish would “love for everybody to try this out.”