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).


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:

  • 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.
  • 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.”
  • Should be on a walking street
  • Available Parking
  • Near a train stop and/or major freeway
  • Near restaurants (food)
  • 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
  • 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!

By tara

Tara Tiger Brown is a technologist, educator, and author developing programs at the intersection of environment, education, and well-being. Tara is a certified Earth Charter Educator, certified GLOBE Teacher, certified Trainee in Forest Medicine. She has co-founded numerous educational-focused nonprofits and startups including LA Makerspace and KitHub and actively participates in community science projects.


  1. This sounds wonderful! Being able to make it as low cost and accessible to kids is great. I really hope this works out well! 

    We have (All Hands Active) been providing some support at our local library, natural history museum, and hands on museum. We also have a really great relationship with an organization called Bright Futures that runs after school programs for under-privileged/lower economic public schools. There seems to be a strong desire for organizations that can provide hands on DIY / Maker based activities. We regularly hear wonderful things about Mt Elliott. Looking forward to hearing about all your success! – Josh Williams / All Hands Active

  2. Sounds very exciting, for both kids and parents. I can’t make Sunday meeting but would love to support this or participate in the future.

  3. I’ll be at the meeting, and I’m also hosting a meeting for a nascent student research network over at the Wildwood school.
    Address: 11811 West Olympic Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90064
    Time: Tuesday 8 May 4:30 – 5:45pm
    Site: http://scienceland.wikispaces.com/PEER

  4. We’d love to help and be involved. Our org, School Factory, offers support for groups launching *spaces. See http://schoolfactory.org. One value is offering 501c3 on day one, so you can receive donations immediately. We’ve also created a project plan (“Make a Space Kit”) to help guide groups in the formation of a space.

  5. Great idea.  Not to be pessimistic, but this is Los Angeles.  I support your idea fully.

  6. I was just thinking today of what a great benefit the combo of after school program and motivating, super interesting DIY hackerspace would be. Adult mentorship and supervision, credit for alternate education credits, social and technical skill building for so many kids. Home-schooled, under served, budding tech whizzes who just need more support and encouragement — what kid couldn’t use more of that? I’m in Oakland, CA and am keen on helping.

  7. Sounds great & just right for my 14 year old son’s interests! I see that I’ve missed the meetings. Who can I get in touch with now?

  8. Hi there, I just read the good.is article about the Hack Jam at Wildwood School. I manage and design programs at the D3 Lab, which is a space for young people to design interest-initiated projects that impact the community, which we define quite broadly. Check out our video here: http://newlearninginstitute.org/d3-lab-nightingale-middle-school

    I’d love to get involved in the community discussions around starting a DIY space. . . Are the meetings still taking place?

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