We've been huge fans of the annual Maker Faire ever since it debuted in NYC in 2010. Every September, Queens' New York Hall of Science hosts this DIY festival featuring a slew of stations where families can work on awesome craft, art and technological projects. So we're excited to report that New York City families can enjoy the super-creative spirit of Maker Faire year-round at the museum's brand-new Maker Space.
My family and I recently saw a preview of this collaborative clubhouse. It's an incredible place where kids can learn about science, engineering and math concepts by experimenting with "real adult stuff" under the tutelage of educators, developers, artists and even celebrity designers. But forget all of those big buzz words. All you need to know is that Maker Space is a blast for the entire family.
I admit I'm usually cynical when I hear educators promise that kids will "learn in an engaging way" because it sounds like lip service, but at Maker Space that isn't the case. The tinkering process really lends itself to self-directed learning and parents are encouraged to collaborate with their kids.
My family and I oohed and ahhed at several of the stations but we were especially drawn to the 3D plastic printer. We watched as hard plastic items were "printed" layer by layer, like the globe and robot in my slide show above, all by just hitting a button.
We also had a literal light bulb moment while working at the LED station. Under the guidance of an electrical engineer, my boys connected wires to tiny batteries and illuminated small light bulbs. Excited whispers of "I did it!" from my boys added a super charge to our moment of enlightenment.
Although the programming and activities at Maker Space will change on a regular basis, much of the equipment in the 1,200-square-foot space will remain. Right now tools include 18 SINGER® sewing machines, a garment steamer and other items for sewing and quilting basics; and soldering irons and drills. As you can probably tell from my description, Maker Space is best for school-age kids and ideal for tweens and teens who'll have the know-how and patience to experiment with tools and technology.
For the time being, Maker Space is only open for specific workshops, you can't just drop in. This Saturday, April 28 from 1 to 3pm, visitors can attend a Build a Drum workshop, where they'll explore the science behind the percussive instrument and make their own drums for an impromptu performance. On Sunday, April 29 from noon to 3pm, kids can learn to make a flip book in a Paper Animation workshop. Coming up on Saturday, May 12 from 1 to 3pm, families can figure out what to do with a Bucket of Junk by designing and building their own creations. And on Design Squad Nation Family Day on Saturday, May 19, Maker Space will welcome Nate Ball from PBSKids' popular TV series. We're guessing he'll make great use of all of those sewing machines!
The museum is still putting the finishing touches on Maker Space and figuring out the programming. We look forward to seeing what develops there.
Maker Space at the New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street. All Maker Space programming is free with admission: $11 for adults, $8 for children ages 2-17.