Hooray for our LA-based friend Tara Brown, co-founder of Los Angeles Makerspace, who is interviewed today on the White House Office of Science and Technology website! She shares about her experience with bringing kids and families into the growing community of American makers. LA Makerspace is a "non-profit community of practice for inventors, builders, and creators ("makers") to work and learn in a range of areas, including software, hardware, electronics, robotics, art, filmmaking, bio-tech, eco-tech, wearable-tech, and more." And while many "makerspaces" are exclusively for grownups, this one is family-friendly and for makers of all ages.
What inspired you to help lead this effort?
A few different things inspired me. My biggest inspiration is my own two-and-a-half year old. I work with researchers that are focused on the "connected learning" movement and it became very apparent to me that Ripley is going to need more than what is taught to him in school for him to follow his interests. I also noticed that some of the emerging communities for makers in LA might not be the best environment for younger kids, from a safety standpoint. Not too long after that, I co-founded a women's tech club and I thought that perhaps I could combine my own club activities with the need for a more kid-friendly environment.
What kinds of projects demonstrate the promise (and fun) of Making for parents and kids?
All of them! We have a policy where if you are under 13, you must be accompanied by an adult to all of our classes. At first we thought it was a risky move because we weren't sure if parents were hoping to just drop their kids off at classes, but it was the opposite. The parents were just as excited to be at the classes as the kids. Some families have come to almost every single one of our events and always learn something new and mentor the newcomers.