The Power of Play:
Makerspace Movement Gains Steam in Santa Maria
Local community groups are teaming up to encourage creative minds to come together and innovate. The Makerspace Movement has come to the Central Coast, and thanks to a recent grant, has really begun to gain traction in Santa Maria.
“Makerspaces and the movement associated with them are deceptively simple--they are places for creators to make things,” explained Trevor Passage, Librarian at Allan Hancock College. “This can be as simple as a few tables with some paper crafts laid out, or as sophisticated as a series of 3D printers and laser engravers working in concert to produce pieces straight out of a maker's CAD (computer aided design) software.”
“It’s more of the “maker mindset” of creating something out of nothing and exploring your own interests that’s at the core of a Makerspace,” explained Amy Blasco, Program Director for the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum. “Makerspaces also equip children with critical 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM), boost self-confidence, and foster a sense of belonging in our community.”
Allan Hancock College teamed up with the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum and the Santa Maria Public Library to apply for a grant and bring the Makerspace Movement to Santa Maria.
“Through connections in the community, we were invited to apply for a grant from the California Community Colleges Maker Initiative with Allan Hancock College and the Santa Maria Public Library,” Blasco explained. “Our group, the Central Coast Makerspace, was the only one to feature a three-tier structure and we were one of only a few to receive the full funding amount of $350,000.”
As a result, a variety of Makerspace programming and events are available right here in Santa Maria. Events held so far have included culinary arts Makerspaces where students have prepared meals from scratch, a book Makerspace where attendees explored the process of binding books together, and even a tech focused Makerspace with 3D printers and a virtual reality rig for users to experience. The museum has also launched a new STEAM program called Brain Builders that draws heavily on the maker mindset. It’s held every Thursday at 3:30 p.m at the Discovery Museum.
Perhaps the most exciting development from the grant is the new Central Coast Makerspace, which will be opening in May in the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum in the space that was previously the Cornerstone Community Room.
“The Discovery Museum staff and its Allan Hancock College interns have been working non-stop to develop, stock, and install its brand-new Central Coast Makerspace,” Blasco explained. “Our Makerspace will have four main activity stations, including robotics, woodworking, electronics, and textiles (knitting, crocheting, etc.). Families who come to the Discovery Museum Makerspace will have access to facilitated programs using technology—3-D printers, laser cutter, robotics kits—and more traditional, low-tech items, like duct tape and glue.”
Truly a collaborative effort, the Makerspace Movement will provide valuable resources to people of all ages in Santa Maria.
“People of all ages are excited to have a space in the community that’s dedicated to STEAM learning and making. And many people have mentioned how excited they are for the grand opening of the Central Coast Makerspace in May,” Blasco said.
“We want to encourage visitors to learn new skills and to get excited about being creative and innovative,” explained Susannah Kopecky, Assistant Professor/Librarian at Allan Hancock College. “We want to welcome as many people as possible to come and try something new, something that perhaps they always wanted to try or learn about, but never had the time or opportunity to do so.”
You can learn more about the Makerspace Movement and the Central Coast Makerspace by visiting http://smvdiscoverymuseum.org/cause-view/discovery-maker-lab/.