A huge problem we had was that we were in a math classroom that needed to be completely wiped clean of things each day. There could be no storage anything in sight when we were not in our makerspace. It just had to appear at the start of my class each day and disappear at the end. Luckily there was a locked closet adjoining the room from which I could pull out plastic shelves each day and push them back into the closet. We were a new pop-up makerspace!
Actually, I have a lot of experience with creating maker spaces that pop up for a short while and then get put away. In fact most of the maker spaces I have worked in have been these temporary shared communities who don’t have a permanent place to be. So we do the next best thing.
The first Pop-up Maker space I created, was in a refrigerator box. My students and I were exploring camera making and developing our own photos with our DIY cameras. We needed a dark place we could set up with a red lamp. The students would crawl to the back of the box to develop their film and we could push it off to the side when not in use. At the end of the month of our work, we dismantled the box and used the cardboard for another project in the gym.
Each time I create a makerspace I always have had to work within a very unique set of constraints that most people may not think is possible. For five years, I operated in a another classroom for one period a day that only permitted us to have a foot x 4 foot area to keep things. My students created very large things each year. I solved the problem by using vertical space, putting in temporary shelving all the way up to the ceiling on top of my metal tool chests for storage of student projects. Once I started to become friends with classroom teacher of the room I shared, she warmed up and permitted me to keep an 8 foot wind tunnel in her room. However there was only 2 working outlets in the room. I will never forget getting in trouble because in order to use the wind tunnel we had to unplug the giant display menorah outside the school and one day the students forgot to plug it back in after using the wind tunnel. I never would have dreamed I’d be sharing an electric outlet between a wind tunnel and a giant light up menorah but working within specific constraints is all part of making a maker space.
The ultimate in pop-up makerspaces takes place each summer in a summer STEM program I created for underserved children. My team of educators, and interns packed materials and equipment to take the activities to other organizations at places like churches and rec centers. We set up activities in whatever space we have available and tear it down at the end of the activity period. We have been able to do amazing projects and activities in this fashion through a portable makerspace approach and have become good at adapting to quite a variety of differing conditions and constraints. www.youthengineeringandscience.org
Despite the portable and temporary nature of these types of makerspaces, the essential elements are there: a group of people freely interacting with the materials and each other in a community of makers and learners working on designing and producing physical things of high interest. Here is a photo of a pop-up Maker space at Baker Recreation Center in July 2014. The children are making earthquake proof towers on a table without any legs. #ED677 #clequity