Tag Archives: hackerspace

Got: Kid Friendly Hackerspace in Los Angeles

This update is a huge deal to me…I hope you’ll read on.

 

If you’ve been paying attention to any of my updates for the past several months, then you may have read my post from May 3rd “Want: Kid Friendly Hackerspace in LA” and you may have paid attention to what the response was. If you didn’t, here’s the scoop:

 

After I wrote that post, 25 people showed up at Crashspace to discuss our common desire to run kid friendly maker events in LA. If you aren’t familiar, here’s a definition of a makerspace:

 

Makerspaces (aka Hackerspaces) provide shared physical resources otherwise unaffordable or attainable by an individual or family. They provide a fluid workspace as well as the collaboration, inspiration and encouragement of others. We want to appeal to youth, families, school groups, stay-at-home-parents, home-schooled kids and individuals that are comfortable working around and with kids.

 

The maker movement, as it pertains to education, seeks to build the confidence, analytic skills, and creativity of those involved by establishing an environment centered on the creative act. This collaborative and project-based approach to learning runs counter to the current trend in education of defining academic success in terms of standardized tests, especially at the cost of hands-on programs such as shop, art, and laboratory science. By establishing a permanent physical location for Los Angeles Young Makers students, and their families, will have a place to learn about engineering, design, and research through both organized classes as well as open-ended projects.

 

 

Very soon after that first meeting, a group of us started running events including the LA Youth Hack Jam, Scratch Classes, Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Social and an Arduino Class taught by 11 year old Quin. You can read all about it on our website and a running list here.

 

During that time, I started bi-weekly planning meetings where anyone interested could come and help plan the opening of our own space. Our goal was to determine interest in the community for DIY events/classes/projects and then find a place before the end of the year to call our own with 24×7 access for late night project hacking and lots of fun equipment and tools to play with.

 

We certainly aren’t the first group to open a makerspace, but Los Angeles is a very large place (500 sq miles) and we had people from the westside and eastside attending events, so finding a central location that met our long list of requirements was incredibly hard. We did some research and identified DTLA as our best bet from an affordability standpoint but also  accessibility to a train stop and the work being done to reach the westside. You can read all of our requirements here.

 

 

After hosting planning meetups every 2 weeks, the committed became apparent and a core group of enthusiasts formed. We met at several places around DTLA including Urth in the Arts District, Americano and NationBuilder near Pershing Square. The participants included Software Engineers, Hardware Engineers, Scientists, Teachers, Filmmakers, Roboticists, Rocket Scientists, Librarians, Small Business Owners, Parents! The diverse backgrounds made for interesting conversations and the kind of members that we wanted to exist in the space…an eclectic mix of experiences, skills and interests.

 

 

After months of meetings and a couple of failed possibilities, one day I got a call from Sharon Ann Lee of Culture Brain asking if I could meet at LA Mart. Levi, Sean, Sharon and myself met with Ava, the Business Dev. Director at LA Mart and got a tour of the 11th floor. If you aren’t familiar with LA Mart, picture multiple floors of Furniture and Gift Showrooms. Ava explained that the entire 11th floor is being dedicated to a community of creatives curated with artists, filmmakers, tech entrepreneurs and everything in-between.

 

We checked out all the available spaces and found one that was 2100 sq ft and perfect. There’s an area for childcare, windows to bring in natural light, freight elevators to move in large equipment, and the bonus is a Fab Lab right next door. So anything we can’t offer, members can walk a few feet and get what they need. It met almost every single one of our requirements except the outdoor space, but we are discussing plans for the roof.

 

It was a no-brainer decision, we knew that it was the right spot to setup LA Makerspace.

 

I am super SUPER excited to let you know that we will be opening up LA Makerspace in the New Year!

 

Between now and January we’ll host some events including the Halloween Open House on Oct. 28th to let people see the space and learn more about what we are doing. We need to build the space out and we need to raise some funds to pay for equipment, tools, insurance, etc. until we can become self-sustaining through memberships and events.We’ll raise some funds through Corporate Sponsorships and a KickStarter campaign. Anyone can donate money on our website now or equipment and tools can be dropped off. Pretty soon we’ll be pre-selling memberships. We were very fortunate to meet Sabrina at home&community who agreed to be LA Makerspace’s fiscal sponsor so that we can apply for grants and take in donations. We’re in the process of doing the paperwork for our own 501(c)3.

 

Our Mission

 

To provide an all ages 24×7 community workspace with a workshop, research areas, babysitting area, gallery to showcase projects and outdoor space. The space is to be used for developing and prototyping ideas, projects, events, classes, and tech group meetups.

 

Reach for the stars

 

I know this is just the beginning, but jumping over that first hurdle was a big deal. Now it’s real. Now we have a homebase and we can focus on some of our projects like Citizen Science, continuing Scratch Classes for our young kids, Mom & Dad Hack Days including Childcare, Little Engineer classes for Toddlers and Preschoolers. And maybe building an elevator to the moon.

 

If you’d like to get involved please email me. And don’t forget to come out to one of our amazing events:

 

 

Thank you to our Board of Directors, Joseph, Sabrina, Luz, Michelle, Sara, Kent, Cassy, Travis, Nirvan, Harley, Patricia, Jean, Stacie, Donna, Adam and especially to all the makers that have come out to our events. We hope you like the new space and look forward to working alongside you on a bunch of amazing projects!

 

Just look for the big wooden chair!

 

Hearts and Hugs,
Tara

 

25+ Amazing People at First LA Young Makers Meetup

On a lovely Sunday afternoon I rolled up to the front door of Crashspace in Culver City. I was feeling a bit nervous about the first Los Angeles Young Makers meetup and wondering if anyone would show up. When I walked inside the front door, people were already hanging out a full 30 minutes early, including Gabrielle with her two young kids. I met her virtually through my LA Moms Group; turns out she is a welder among other talents.

At 4:30pm the place was packed full of people I consider dear friends and a bunch of new faces (these pics were taken by the wonderful Kent Nichols).

Donna Mandosa welcomed everyone and kicked things off.

She turned it over to me so I could introduce myself and explain why I want a permanent kid friendly space.

From there we spent over an hour going around the room learning a bit about everyone.

 

There were a bunch of teachers including Sara Nichols who brought a student from her school in Koreatown where they are trying to start a robotics club.

 

Kent Nichols and Leena Pendharkar are both filmmakers. As excited as I was to have robot and rocketship experts from places like SpaceX and xcor, the arts are are very important to the balance of the space.

Some folks have started schools, know how to write grants and are statisticians. Others work at tech startups, run machine shops and work at radio stations. It was a mixed, enthusiastic crowd and I was so happy that they are game to create more opportunities for youth to make awesome stuff.

We are forming working groups depending on who wants what and I’m leading the permanent physical space working group aka Really Awesome Space. The plan is to meet frequently; both Sean Bonner who founded Crashspace and Michael Clive who founded Mojave Makers both said they got their spaces up and running within a few months of the first working group meeting and they attribute that to having weekly meetings to form the core founding group.

If you are interested in being apart of the Los Angeles Young Makers Group to share skills, find skills or help get the permanent physical space, here are the links to get you involved:

Working Group Meetup on May 14th

Los Angeles Youth Hack Jam on June 23rd

 

Note: This discussion turned into a real live working and thriving nonprofit called LA Makerspace

 

 

 

Want: Kid Friendly Hackerspace in Los Angeles

Over the past several months I’ve been connecting with like-minded people who want a permanent, public, kid friendly hacker/diy space(s) in Los Angeles. These people have been working with kids and tech groups in some way or another through after-school programs, pop-up events and monthly meetups. A permanent space to house the equipment and schedule regular classes would help buildup a community of members, customers and volunteers.

A community space where people of all ages and backgrounds can work and learn together on fun projects using 3D printers, laser cutters, paint brushes, electronics, and anything their imaginations come up with. A place to hang out, mess around and geek out (Dr. Mimi Ito’s term).

Background

My inspiration comes from the ladies tech group that I run, the Mt Elliott Makerspace in Detroit,  and a few different kids that I have had the pleasure to hangout with including Luna Ito-Fisher, Caine of Caine’s Arcade, and Super-Awesome Sylvia. I want a space that I can take my kid to and he can participate in an environment with other DIYers.

I was just introduced by the fantastic engineering educator Luz Rivas of Iridescent Learning to Donna Mandosa, a Technology Director at a private school, who created the meetup group Los Angeles Young Makers so we paired up as organizers.

The first public meeting to talk about the space is Sunday, May 6th, 2012, 4:30pm at Crashspace in Culver City. We’ll talk about ideas for the kid friendly space and good examples of existing ones. If you are interested as a potential member, sponsor or evangelist, volunteer, skill sharer, Please RSVP and Join Us!

There are a few documents that are excellent guides on creating hackerspaces:

Hackerspace Design Patterns

Makerspace Playbook (for kids)

Peer Production Communities Survey 2011 (interesting stats from 87 hacker communities)

Vision (For Discussion)

Along with a host of people who have started kid friendly spaces, I chatted with Sean Bonner who founded Crashspace (about why they don’t allow kids) and Deb Sigel, a JPL engineer and founder of Kids Building Things. We discussed what we thought a kid friendly hackerspace might look like and ways in which we could get it started:

Members
  • Age-agnostic
  • Experienced members that will train and support members to use the equipment
  • Encourage parents to participate in learning with their kids. Perhaps Kids under 13 must have a parent with them unless it’s a class.
  • Reserved age-specific slots. I Learned from YouMedia that allowing certain times of day or week for specific age groups is important.
Space
  • Building with electricity that can support welding
  • Restroom Facilities including eye wash station
  • Equipment for woodwork, metalwork, fine art, electronics,
  • Outdoor space for gardening, open flame, activities that need ventilation like spray paint, etc.
  • Daycare so parents can work on projects and the kids can watch. The Mothership HackerMoms space in Oakland has childcare; the kids can watch what Mom is doing and eventually take part: “we offer $5 childcare and a kid-friendly 24/7 member space where little ones can learn and witness their incredible, hacking, entrepreneurial moms in full glory.”
Location
  • Should be on a walking street
  • Available Parking
  • Near a train stop and/or major freeway
  • Near restaurants (food)
Equipment
  • We are hoping to get most of the equipment to be donated
  • Start hosting free/inexpensive classes and see what type of projects are the most popular and build up the equipment based on the class equipment needs
Business Model Ideas
Note: We are going to need time to figure out how to sustain the space.
  • Sponsorship money
  • Membership – ideally membership is free for kids
  • Classes (instructor and space split proceeds. Also a way for kids to make money).
  • Web Show with Ad Funding
Questions
  • How do we attract the kids, youth and adults that will make the space a fun, positive and supportive place to hang out, mess around and geek out?
  • Where can we recruit volunteers that are willing to sign-up for certain time slots to be on-hand as supervisors?
  • What areas of LA make sense for this first space? Should it be central like DTLA?
  • Where can we find supportive sponsors?

Our first public meeting is Sunday, May 6th, 2012, 4:30pm at Crashspace.

Please RSVP and Join Us!