Written by: Elinor Aspegren
In September, Mobile Makerspace (MakeX) opened at the Palo Alto City Library. In April 2013, the Palo Alto Art Center and the City of Palo Alto began to work on this project, which its official website defines as a place where “young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests.” MakeX will remain at the Palo Alto Art Center until Oct. 15. Then, it will move throughout Palo Alto. It will be open on Thursday nights, Saturdays and Sundays.
Sophomore Emma Waldspurger, who was one of the 15 local teens involved in the project, describes the space as a place to explore and find inner creativity. “[You] can make things—anything you can dream of,” she said. “And there are many tools to help you do it.”
Resources in the MakeX include a stamp maker, sketch pads and jewelry-making supplies, along with a sewing machine, an iron and a laser cutter. There are also many mentors employed in order to help students find supplies and learn how to work the various tools provided in the space. According to Waldspurger, the accessible supplies, although essential for students in pursuing their interests, are not the most important part of Makerspace. “The space is more defined by the ideas and the creativity and the people within it,” she said.
The planning board, comprised primarily of teens, created MakeX after receiving a grant from the California City Library. “We decided we wanted to create a safe environment,” Waldspurger said. “When you are at school, you are getting graded on your work, but here you can safely try things out.” After deciding the focus of the project, Director of the Art Center Karen Kienzle and the teens began designing the furniture. “The teens used the design thinking method to start designing and prototyping the furniture,” Kienzle said.
The teens then worked with architect Chris Nol to make their ideas a reality. “They picked a number of things that they thought would be useful and they did concepts and we talked to them about worked and what didn’t,” Nol said. According to Nol, after that, the teens critiqued each other’s models and started working on the full scale design. “[I] then had to make it work, so we did some computer designs and brought the designs back to the teens,” he said. “The teens had a lot of great ideas on what the space needed.”