Crowd-Funding a STEMulate Learning Makerspace

I am planning additional crowd-funding projects aimed at obtaining additional equipment for STEMulate Learning workshop participants and educators who use elements of the Maker Movement for their own classes. MakerBot‘s participating schools I am providing with the preliminary SOLID Learning lesson plans already have basic 3D printers, but our workshop participants, students and teachers would benefit from access to traditional hackerspace/makerspace equipment such as a laser cutter, CNC machine, a complex-capable 3D printer, and of course additional computing power for the expanding World Community Grid computing demonstration of high-performance computing. Unfortunately, the nearest makerspace is the ATX Hackerspace over in Austin, who have been tremendously helpful but are relatively inaccessible for public school students and educators due to the four-hour travel time.

Make's MakerSpace Project LogoI will be creating a mobile makerspace that can travel between public schools for use by the teachers to start with, using Make’s MakerSpace model, as I am not sure the hobbyists in the area are sufficiently engaged to support a fixed-location hackerspace and the public schools require far more provisions to ensure that students remain away from dangerous equipment in a traditional makerspace. I believe that an educator-focused mobile version would be the best starting point for the area. A mobile makerspace could also travel out to urban schools as well to extend our interaction with smaller public schools and their educational programs.

I am not yet ready to start the next crowd-funding project, as these require significant time and attention. I am currently focusing on the SOLID Learning program until I provide sufficient materials for teachers to start conducting the research, but I welcome any suggestions regarding the best options to consider as we expand STEMulate Learning through crowd-support and integrate SOLID Learning into schools.

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