Makerspace Development 101
If you’re reading this, you probably belong to one of two camps:
1. Makerspace Groupie
2. Makerspace Wannabe
What do I mean by this?
Well, if you belong to Group 1, then you either maintain a Makerspace or you regularly use one. If you belong to Group 2, then you’re interested in Makerspaces and/or want to create your own.
Congratulations to those who belong to Group 2!
Makerspaces are wonderful environments that promote community learning through creating objects.
But let me warn you, developing a Makersoace can be a bit of a rabbit hole.
Before you begin, you MUST have a clear idea of what you HOPE your Makerspace will be. Will your new Makerspace be full of the latest tech toys such as 3D printers? Will your space comprise mostly of low technology supplies? Or will your space lie somewhere in-between?
Beginning Steps to Developing a Makerspace:
- Identify a space in your facility that can be converted into a Makerspace.
- Define your client group.
- Develop a VISION for the space.
- Build your inventory list.
- Promote the Makerspace to Stakeholders.
- Secure funding.
Why choosing a focus is important:
It’s important to develop a VISION for your new Makerspace before you actually begin developing the space, because it provides a framework for the kinds of things you will stock in the space. Without a vision, you are likely to get lost in the rabbit hole when it comes time to build your inventory.
The Makerspace Inventory:
Once you have identified where your Makerspace will live, who will use the space, and developed a vision for how the space will be used, you are ready to begin building your Inventory.
Your Makerspace Inventory is your wishlist of supplies. It is everything that you hope to contain within the space in order to serve your client group according to your vision.
Create a spreadsheet that includes prices, quantities, and vendor links.
The most obvious benefit of creating a spreadsheet is that it will keep you organized. You will know how much of a material you need, the price, and where to find it. This will definitely help you when it comes time to reorder supplies.
Set a budget for your inventory.
Whatever you do, set a budget limit for yourself and stick to it. Keeping up with a budget will ensure that you are ordering the correct amount of supplies and the financial experts of your institution will appreciate it too!
Shop around in order to find the best prices and read customer reviews of items.
The last thing that you want to do is purchase a low-quality item because you didn’t read the product review! Save yourself the future headache by reading reviews BEFORE you commit to purchasing the product. Also, make sure that you check out a couple of vendors before purchasing your items. Amazon is a popular vendor to use because of the large amount of items available, but remember that they are not the only option! Membership Warehouses such as Costco may be a good option for bulk items such as batteries. Likewise, specialty stores such as Jo-Ann Fabric and Michaels Craft Stores may also be good choices.
Solicit requests from your stakeholders.
Make sure that you involve your whole community in the development of your Makerspace. It is very possible that someone, not directly involved in your Makerspace project, will have valuable ideas to help you develop the space.
Work collaboratively with others to develop your list.
Not only should you talk to your stakeholders about what should be included in the Makerspace, but you should develop a Makerspace team to help you create and/or maintain the space. To this end, collaborative documents such as Google Docs are a great resource to use as they allow multiple people to work on the same document remotely and simultaneously.
The initial setup of a Makerspace can be an incredibly involved process that requires lots of critical thinking and research. However, the benefits of creating a Makerspace for your institution will definitely outweigh any initial struggles.
Begin planning for your Makerspace today! I promise that you will not regret it.