What is a Makerspace? What is The Gizmo Dojo?
I’ve gotten these questions many times since our first meeting in June of 2014. It’s difficult for me to answer these questions, not because I don’t have a clear goal in mind, but because I don’t know what aspects to focus on that you will be interested in. I’d like to touch on some of them in a bit more detail:
The tools: A makerspace is a place where members can come and use the tools to make whatever they want to make. We’ll have tools from laser cutters to sewing machines, bandsaws to 3D printers. The more tools we have, the more things our members can make. It is one of our fundamental goals to continue to buy, build, and fix more tools, because it allows for bigger and better projects. Right now, we have some woodworking equipment, some electronics equipment, some small computers, and we’re in the middle of building our own 3D printer. This will be one of my favorite tools, even years down the road, because we’ve had many people working on the project, and it’s going to be a unique device that our community created. We are running a Kickstarter campaign until October 25 so we can get a laser cutter, a CNC router, and a place to house all this great stuff. Check out the OpenKnit Wally120 for another tool I’d like to build when we get more established. Oh, and a MeArm. And some pottery tools. And a forge (a little one). And maybe a CNC plasma cutter (a big one). And a SLA 3D Printer. I’ll stop now (but the list goes on).
The classes: The maker movement highlights learning through doing. Our classes give students hands-on experience from knowledgeable teachers to give them the best information we know how to give. Our members are encouraged to share their own knowledge, and we share the profits from the classes with the teachers. This allows our teachers to earn some extra income on the side, and develop their own skills and knowledge by sharing with others. This also fosters a community eager to share their own knowledge and learn new skills. A makerspace is a great place to practice lifelong learning. That phrase is bandied about fairly lightly, but I’ve never seen a better environment for practicing it than a makerspace. Our classes have already covered a very wide range of interests, including Arduino, chainmaille, knitting, welding, sewing, FPGAs, Linux, papercraft, robotics, 3D printing, and many more. We want to offer as many classes as we can to encourage a diverse array of interests and disciplines. This allows people to try out new skills and topics quickly and affordably, and pursue the ones they are the most interested in. I would love it if someone was curious about welding, then took our welding class, got certified, and started their welding career.
The community: This part of The Gizmo Dojo is the strongest already, but it’s one I don’t typically touch on in the quick 5-minute explanation. We have such a great community of people already, and we’re only looking to grow it. If we could make everybody in Colorado a member of The Gizmo Dojo, we would, and we’d have a great time doing it. We get together twice a week, and at every meeting, people help each other out with projects, come up with new ideas, and generally communicate and collaborate to help people with their own personal projects. Everybody is welcome, and we encourage makers of all kinds and ages to come be a part of our community.
These 3 qualities are what really make a makerspace like The Gizmo Dojo a great place to be. There are a couple of other things I want to mention which really interest some people, but may not be critical for others.
We like entrepreneurs and want to support growing new businesses and new products. Broomfield is a hub for art, innovation, and technology, and the city is supportive of new businesses. By having access to a community of makers, as well as the tools to build a prototype, budding entrepreneurs are right at home at The Gizmo Dojo. These new companies support their local cities and communities by creating jobs and bolstering the local economy.
Our school systems are quickly removing programs like home economics, shop class, art, music, and other kinds of freeform learning from the classrooms. Kids growing up now don’t have access to some of these classes that don’t fit nicely into the current mold. Learning should be fun, and we have a place where they are free to learn whatever topics interest them, and a way for them to explore without fear of judgment or bad grades. We are big on STEAM education, but more than that, we encourage everyone to continue to learn, try new things, and grow.
The Gizmo Dojo is already a great community and a fun group of people to be around. We are ready for a place where we can work on projects, explore new ideas, and get together to collaborate and share. We want you to be a part of that community and help us make our vision a reality. Please support our Kickstarter campaign, which will run until October 25. With your help, we can work towards a better tomorrow.
Tom Germon – President