As the summer programming draws to a close, Brooks Makerspace looks forward to providing young people with exciting new opportunities to explore new skills and interests.
The Makerspace is associated with the SPEC Association for Children and Families and is a space for young people to connect with their peers and work with a variety of tools, ranging from play equipment and 3D printers to board games.
“Our goal is to be a safe after-school drop-in center, a kind of summer during the day, where children from all over Brooks and surrounding counties can come during our hours of operation. We provide a kind of safe environment to socialize and make friends, ”said Ken Shields, program coordinator for Makerspace. “We have a lot of technological equipment here. So we have two computer labs, we have a flexible space with a Nintendo Switch and a lot of board games, we have a virtual reality room, which is very popular. So the kids can come here and experience virtual reality for the first time, and then we also have workshops. We have a sewing workshop that takes place periodically, every month or every two months. We have a volunteer who does this for us once a week when she does it over a four week period. And then we hope to bring more programming in the fall, like a welding workshop.
While children active in sports have ample opportunity to connect with their peers, Makerspace hopes to provide the same opportunity for children with creative or technological interests.
“A lot of kids will spend time, especially in the summer these days, in their parents’ basements, without really going out into the community. So here we’re offering a lot of those same things that kids would love to do, but instead of being home alone, we’re kind of letting them broaden their social horizons a bit. You know, give them something they want to do, but also then give them access to programming that they might not have thought of trying before, ”Shields said.
“When Makerspace started in 2017, the idea was that it would be a bit like an entrepreneurship center, where kids could learn business plans and kind of get into tech industries and stuff,” he said. said Amanda Goodnough, Executive Director of SPEC. “During his life here, we’ve had some elements of it. We’re also looking to the future to be able to bring back some kind of career planning, to expose students to the types of tech careers that they might not be familiar with. Because so many jobs are being invented even as we speak now. So to be able to connect them to those resources that, especially in a rural area, they might not have access to or have no knowledge of. We are certainly working in a way to get back in that direction. But for now, it’s enough to help kids, especially after COVID, reconnect socially, meet other young people who have common interests, and be able to socialize by doing something they love. So it’s different for kids who play sports, can go to play sports and meet friends this way. But if you’re into tech or gaming, it tends to be very isolating. “
Along with the entrepreneurial aspect, the Makerspace was primarily just a drop-in center with no formal programming for the first three years of its life, before it closed due to COVID, Goodnough said. Now that it’s reopened, largely with all new staff and management, they hope to keep this aspect going for kids who have nowhere to be at night or want to be with those with similar interests as well. than introducing more programs over time. .
“The community has been amazing in terms of donations and support. It’s just a matter of connecting with volunteers who want to come and just be able to share some of those skills with you as they arrive. It’s really kind of a work in progress which, I think that’s going to be the nature of it, and even in a year, that will be the nature of it, because we’re looking at who we have, what skills. they bring, then what they can do. As that evolves, we may come up with different things. We’re very excited about this, ”Goodnough said.