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From Makerspace to Solve Space: A Road Map

Makerspace Panel

(L-R)  Chad Marin, Brian Pichman, Peter Raymond, Mike Cimino, Tod Colegrove (Moderator)

This double-length session was a mini-workshop for those who wanted to know how to go beyond the “gee whiz” aspect of makerspaces, and make them into “solve spaces” to enable the creation of new knowledge and new intellectual property. 

Mike Cimino, Director of STEAM and Making, Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) Fab Lab, said they were an early adopter of making in libraries. Today, FFL has several makerspaces. In considering constructing a makerspace, it is important to start with the community’s needs and use them to start developing your makerspace. FFL has embraced STEAM learning as a core mission, developed a STEAM coding and learning center, and has become a resource for and partner with school districts and teachers. Currently they have the Fab Lab, Little Makers space (which is in a separate space but is being incorporated into the Fab Lab so families don’t have to be split up), and Creation Lab.

Peter Raymond, CEO and Founder, SolveOS, said that the library became his home when he was growing up because the librarians were able to satisfy his curiosity and let him be who he was. Libraries are a fascinating way to help communities solve problems. The best way is just to move in to a space and start making and then solving. We are in an entirely new world where we cannot predict the future like we have in the past. Peter showed a fascinating video of the space he established to bring people together to create solutions to their problems.

Chad Marin, Librarian and Innovation Manager, St. Petersburg College, manages the Innovation Lab (iLab). They have no budget so everything they do is grant-funded. You don’t need a huge space to create a lab. The lab enhances learning: classes come in to do creative learning–coding workshops, hackathons, etc. We are teaching students how to think like a programmer or an engineer, not necessarily become one.

Gadgets for Good

They launched a Gadgets for Good program and  invited people to bring in old technology, scavenged parts, and created new devices . They are building their own 3D printer. The iLab is everywhere–even outside (to test a drone they built). In the health care field, a student used a 3D printer to create a device to hold the bed adjustment control in hospitals. The hospital liked it so much that they asked for one for every bed (which was not practical because it took 8 hours to create each one).

Every chance you get, share what you do. Demystify STEM and reach out to colleges–you don’t need to be a scientist of engineer to do this. You can educate the public what to do when they see your data. Mistakes are proof that you are trying! Big things can happen in small spaces with little budgets.

Brian Pichman, Director of the Evolve Project, described the origins of the project.

Engage companies with stories and understand what your community wants by learning about their passions. Questions to ask:

Questions to Ask

The Evolve Project works with startup companies and coordinates them helping libraries build makerspaces.

Evolve Project

In the discussion period, atendees were asked if anyone is bored with their makerspace (i.e., people just come and play with Legos, etc., don’t talk to anybody, and then leave). A few hands were raised. The question is why are you bored? Can you get curiosity going again?  What is your purpose?

Here are a few other points that were made:

  • Out of hacking came the craft movement which evolved into the maker movement that is now full of families. Now we need to move into the area of solving. Have I understood and defined a problem and then defined who is working on it?
  • There is something natural about using recycled equipment. The crafting process is what makes it fun. We need to focus on what we want to be–maybe develop a “crafter space” and not just acquire technology for its own sake. This is about enabling the end user to create new things.
  • Look at opportunities. They are in front of us with today’s big challenges: climate change, water resources, community issues. Ask better questions before you get involved with machines, technologies, etc. Understand how you are going to use the technology.
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