Setting Up a Space

Overview

There are many types of makerspaces and a variety of ways you can get started with setting up your makerspace. The same 3 principles apply regardless of what type of makerspace you make:

  • Allow people freedom to experiment
  • Allow people to feel comfortable with failure
  • Allow people the opportunity to progress and iterate

Types of Makerspaces

There are several types of makerspaces. This section will discuss three different styles.

Makerspace in a Box

This is the simplest type of makerspace to get started with. This is a collection of general materials you may already have on hand put together in once box that you can pull off the shelf when you want to use it and put it back when you are done with it. This should be considered a pilot, use this to test making in your program.

Pop-Up Makerspace

The next level up from a Makerspace in a Box is a Pop-Up Makerspace. The whole concept of this type of makerspace is that they can be easily setup and taken down for events, activities, or short-term use. This temporary setup can be used for mobile makerspaces as well (such as a makerspace on a cart that is shared between rooms).

Designated Makerspace

A designated makerspace is a permanent space dedicated to making. This can be small, like a corner of a library, or a larger room or building. The DHF Tech Center is an example of a dedicated makerspace. We recommend making your space as modular and reconfigurable as possible. For example, building your tables with wheels so they can be moved to accommodate a variety of activities and projects. We also recommend using a variety of storage options to accommodate the variety of materials, tools, and equipment you might have in your space. Remember, while this type of makerspace is nice to have – it is NOT the only option, and perhaps not even the best option for your program.

Designing Your Makerspace

When designing a makerspace, the core principles of makerspaces apply as well:

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment
  • Feel free to fail or change your mind
  • Design for opportunities to progress and iterate

As you are designing and planning your makerspace, these are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Making is not only about technology
    • You don’t need anything specialized or expensive to get started making with your youth.
    • You don’t have to start with technology to build a great makerspace. In our workshop, we talk about our start with making as a way to mask the fact that we had very little technology. There are just as many valuable lessons in learning to knit a sweater by hand as programming an Arduino to control a small robot.
  • Modularity is Key
    • Your space should reflect the growing and changing needs of the makers in your space and the work taking place.
    • We recommend making your space as reconfigurable as possible so that you can move things around day to day if need be. One great way to accomplish this is by building your own tables and surfaces; that way you can put everything on wheels and make it really easy to change the layout of a space.
    • Keeping this in mind will help make it so that your space can adapt to the activities and projects taking place instead of the other way around.
    • Feel free to experiment with your space and change it if things aren’t working.
  • Consider Iteration
    • Consider how you might iterate on your space. You don’t need to get it “right” the first time. In fact, there is no “right” way to setup your makerspace. If you keep in mind that you are striving for progress, not perfection, you will feel much better about just jumping in and setting up some kind of space.
    • Start where you are, use what you have.
    • Consider how you might allow youth in your space opportunities to iterate on their projects. For us, that meant building decent-sized project storage into our space. These can be cubbies, bins, shoeboxes, or some other type of creative storage. If you want kids to be able to come back to their work day after day, you need to have a way for them to store their work so it doesn’t get messed up.
  • Offer Inspiration
    • Be sure to keep plenty of inspiration on hand for your youth to explore new ideas, learn new skills, and generally be inspired by other makers and maker projects.
  • Encourage Cooperation & Collaboration
    • You can go a long way toward encouraging cooperation and collaboration in your space simply by how you set up the physical space.
    • Consider how you might arrange your tables and chairs to facilitate more collaboration. For example, multiple seats at a table and tables facing each other.

For more makerspace inspiration, check out these resources from Maker Ed:

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