Designed as an educational makerspace, The MAKE Lab supports College of Education students in exploring the instructional issues of integrating inexpensive technologies to facilitate brainstorming, tinkering, playing, learning, and art creation that support multidisciplinary learning. Additionally serving as a mobile makerspace, The MAKE Lab is brought to various locations throughout the San Marcos area to support community engagement with hands-on activities and workshops on design-based technologies. Honoring the notion of both the strategic and serendipitous design that takes place as people engage in hands-on making that is personally meaningful and expressive, The MAKE Lab asks makers of all ages to proceed with curiosity and MAKE something awesome!
The physical space of The MAKE Lab is accessible to College of Education students who are enrolled in Educational Technology courses, as well as any university students and faculty who make arrangements. The mobile space of The MAKE Lab is freely accessible at various locations on a rotating schedule, such as The San Marcos Public Library and Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos.
The MAKE Lab utilizes a variety of tools to create open-ended creative projects that are flexible for all abilities and grade levels. Ranging from no-tech, low-tech, to high-tech, each of these projects can be modified to leverage the tools you already have access to or can inspire you to try new tools that you haven’t experienced yet. We use tools such as 3D printers, digital die-cutting machines, LED lights, ordinary crafts you could find in your home, and much more!
Due to initial funding from the Texas State University College of Education, the cost to use The MAKE Lab equipment is free.
Dr. Shaunna Smith is the facilitator of The MAKE lab.
Students enrolled in EDTC 5340 use The MAKE Lab to explore ways to creatively repurpose technologies for educational uses. We focus on inexpensive “digital fabrication” design technologies: 2D fabrication machines (Silhouette Cameo, Silhouette Studio software) and 3D printers (Printrbot Simple, and Autodesk 123D and TinkerCad software) as well as basic electronics: simple circuits with LEDs using conductive thread and tape, simple robotics using micro-controllers and found components.
Free community workshops are provided throughout the area and include topics such as, “Making things light up”, “Making things move”, and “Making things think”. Information for various activities and topics are available on our website: http://themakelab.wp.txstate.edu/projects/
The MAKE Lab is used for Educational Technology courses every semester. Additionally, The MAKE Lab sponsors a free summer camp for middle school girls to explore self-efficacy through arts-based approaches with hands-on mathematics (iAM: Integrating Arts & Mathematics summer camp) and free workshops throughout the community for makers of all ages and experience levels, which can be found online: http://themakelab.wp.txstate.edu/events/
The MAKE Lab's goal is to engage learners of all ages in the positive experience of making something personally meaningful while also discussing the multidisciplinary learning that is taking place during making. Our workshops have grown in popularity throughout the community, resulting in our first ever interactive festival which involved a full day of hands-on making with 20 different booths that demonstrated how artists draw upon the other disciplines to create a variety of artistic artifacts. A joint effort with the San Marcos Activity Center and the San Marcos Public Library, the festival included live performances with concerts and puppet shows. We had 55 volunteers who worked all day and estimated over 325 attendees throughout the festival. See more details online: http://themakelab.wp.txstate.edu/2015/01/29/stream-fest-2015/
Currently funding is the biggest challenge. I was lucky enough to receive a large classroom space and get a faculty development grant from my university's College of Education to purchase the hardware and consumable materials; however, I am in need of more funding in order to sustain the program.
Remember that “making” is a subjective term. It doesn't mean that you have to have the biggest most expensive 3D printer or that you are constantly integrating expensive robotics components. “Making” is a hands-on application of knowledge, which can be manifested in a variety of forms – no tech, low tech, or high tech. “Making” is a state of mind and as long as your space is nurturing other individuals' making of personally meaningful artifacts, you are a makerspace.