In the Irish Times, Ruth O'Connor documents a Dublin's new MakeShop, a hackerspace launched by the Science Gallery and open to adults and children alike. It sounds like a wonderful place.
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Once inside, the staff’s enthusiasm finds them, glue guns poised, creating spinning robots from sawn-up dishwashing brushes and three-volt battery packs. Gearóid Keane one of the facilitators, who helps me make a bird house-shaped clock from a Gay Mitchell election poster, says that “The workshops last around 15 or 20 minutes so we get the kids’ full concentration. We get a wide range of ages but all really interested in what they are doing.”
While the target audience is 15- to 25-year-olds, people of all ages can attend the drop-in workshops. Adults and children sit side-by-side and there is a quiet sense of community interrupted by sudden bursts of laughter and excitement. Fionn Kidney of the Science Gallery says it’s about “Taking DIY and turning it into ‘Doing it Together’. It’s about developing a spark of discovery. We want to help young people find their interests.” Fundamentally, he says, MakeShop is about getting hands-on and creative, encouraging questioning and conversation.
Niall Hunt a 14-year-old from Sandymount in Dublin was making a badge – incorporating soldering techniques with learning about circuits by connecting LED lights to a battery. “I’ve always wanted to try soldering but never had the chance before,” says Niall, who likes the idea of a space where people can try out new things. With an interest in DIY, Niall’s dad John says that MakeShop provides access to materials he wouldn’t have at home as well as being an “ideas space”.