Maker Spaces and Meet-Ups Provide Local Hub for STE(A)M-Based Learning
Lying in the space between ideas and their physical manifestations, makerspaces cater to the creators amongst us, providing spaces within which to combine science, technology, engineering, art, and math (a combination widely known as STEAM) in order to produce… who knows what! Makerspaces share some similarities with artists’ studios, but differ from the traditional studio model in that they encompass digital making as well as physical making. Makerspaces either offer tech-based resources to makers or welcome makers to bring their own tech tools, allowing technology a home within the realm of creation. Locally, makerspaces and maker meet-ups are popping up everywhere, providing opportunities for youth to engage in the process of creating within supportive, community-based, intergenerational environments.
Young makers, who may be drawn to the idea of exploring makerspaces without commitment, can meet up with other maker-minded youth at the Westhampton Library’s monthly Maker Club. Newly begun, this maker group offers materials for themed making, but leaves participants only somewhat limited in what they can create. While the first meeting focused on circuitry, there are many ways to light up a bulb – making the possibilities nearly endless. Future meetings will have a similar structure, and will explore topics like woodworking, electronics, and computers.
GREENFIELD MAKER SPACE MEET UP
Older makers may find community amongst participants in the Greenfield 3D Printing and Maker Space Meet Up, a group catering to folks working in 3D modeling and printing but not limited to participants who have their own resources for doing so. This Franklin County group was created in order to build community in preparation for a future makerspace, so watch for its appearance in the future!
In Amherst, makers can find like-minded folks at Amherst Media’s drop-in makerspace. Held on Tuesday afternoons from 3:30-5:30, Amherst Media’s maker events welcome makers of all kinds, whether they’re working on computer code or a knitting project. Open to all ages and experience levels, this weekly event encourages youth to visit just out of curiosity, if only just to learn what makerspaces are all about.
In addition to community maker meet-ups, permanent makerspaces offer classes, events, and membership-based access to tools and materials. In North Adams, the Makers’ Mill encourages creative collaboration and learning opportunities from a historic building in a central location. Offering weekly meet-up events for a variety of makers, classes teaching specific skills, as well as memberships for even more making, the Makers’ Mill is serving as a hub for the growth of the creative community of the Northern Berkshires.
SHIRE CITY SANCTUARY
In Pittsfield, Shire City Sanctuary offers making opportunities in a former church. With space for studios, offices, and meetings, as well as more exciting features like a sewing lab, a screen printing shop, and a commercial kitchen, Shire City Sanctuary likens itself to a gym for creative types. The sanctuary periodically offers community events and classes, and also offers both daily and monthly memberships for short- or long-term access to tools and space for making.
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- Libraries & Maker Culture: A Resource Guide
- Creating Makerspaces in Schools
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