One of the first influences that drew me to design was my high school’s makerspace. After Tianjin International School started their own makerspace in my junior year of high school, I took full advantage of its tools, including the laser cutter, sander, and drill press. All of these tools encouraged me to explore design more deeply through 3D prototyping and developing craft. However, I soon found that I was one of the only students that actually spent time in this space utilizing its tools. Thus, I decided to design “The Makerspace Guide,” for those students and teachers that did not know where to begin in a create space like the makerspace.
My primary goal for the short book is to outlines what a makerspace is, why we have makerspaces, and how we can create our own create spaces in our immediate environments. By reading this book, I hope that my audience (namely students and educators) will realize the opportunities we have in a space like this. The readers of this book will be equipped with the knowledge to initiate the maker movement in their own community and hopefully empower people to make. This book was designed in hopes that through it others are encouraged to take part in the STEM movement that has started to be more prominent in communities.
Once I had a clear goal in mind for what “The Makerspace Guide” was for, I started to research. I researched makerspaces that had been successful, and also those that had not. I also took a close look at how people went about starting a makerspace in their community. Finally, I started an open discussion in my own community asking students and teachers what they thought a makerspace was. I then moved on to the designing and organizing portion of the process. Gathering all that I had learned, I organized this short book in a way that would lead the reader through a process of understanding what a makerspace is and inspiring the reader to begin building a “maker” community. I also used elements of the makerspace to create this book as an inspiration to the reader about a possibility of what can be created in these spaces.
This project was very formative to my outlook on design as it was one of the first projects where I began to realize how the audience is at the center of every design endeavor. As I journeyed through this project, I began shifting my mindset to one that is focused not on what this project can do for me, but how it can service others. I also learned to be more aware of the importance of research and understanding what it is you are designing and whom you are designing for. Talking to students and teachers, researching the maker movement, and looking into areas where communities are able to connect were all crucial touch points in the development of the Makerspace Guide. These lessons learned about being mindful of the audience and using research to guide a project has worked its way into how I now approach all of my projects.