Two weeks ago I delivered a keynote at the Big Sky Global Tech Summit in Big Sky Montana. Teachers at a local school in Big Sky have purchased a decommissioned school bus from their board and are busy transforming that bus into a mobile makerspace.
Reflecting on the past 4+ years of MakerBus fun that Kim, Beth, and I have had, these are five more pieces of advice I had to share.
Never be afraid to copy someone else’s great ideas. Makers learn by copying. Go to a site like Instructables and find a maker project that looks fun and cool to you. By copying the project two things will happen. First, you’ll learn some valuable new skills. Second, while following someone else’s instructions you’ll find ways to bring your own creativity to the project, creating something that’s unique to you.
Fear of failure is the single biggest factor that prevents people from taking creative risks. But through failing you learn invaluable lessons. Two years ago the MakerBus attempted to organize a community world record attempt with 1,200 people. In the end only 700 people showed up and the attempt failed. We were disappointed? Definitely. Did we learn a lot about organizing community events? We sure did. More often than not you learn infinitely more from your failures than your successes.
Failure is only scary if you give it that power. If you’re going to fail, make sure you fail spectacularly.
We can’t stress this enough – to create an amazing makerspace, you don’t need to be a maker movement expert. Passion, hard work, and the ability to take chances (even if you risk failure) are all you need to build a truly amazing maker community.
Take a chance, believe in yourself, work hard, and before long you’ll realize that you’ve become the maker you’ve always wanted to be.
To teach someone else you just need to be one step ahead of them. As an educator don’t be afraid to learn alongside your learners. Teaching someone how to code? Don’t worry if you’ve only gained a skill the day before. Trying a new technology? It’s okay not to know how everything works.
Learners love honesty. Admit that you’re learning too and embrace the collaborative nature of maker education.
Be your own expert!
Finally, be your own expert. You know your maker community best. Don’t feel like you have to listen to us or anyone else. If your community loves sewing, focus on sewing. If your community loves robotics, build robots. Let your community’s interests guide the evolution of your makerspace.
There is no single right way to build a makerspace. No one knows more about the needs of your community than you.
Do you have experience starting a makerspace? Share you wisdom with us in the comments below – let’s learn from each other’s successes and failures. Also, follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube) for the latest maker movement news, tips, and tutorials – let us help you create fun-conventional learning opportunities!
-Ryan Hunt, MakerBus Co-Founder