We loved the library when my kids were little, we were there all the time. We listened and sang at Mommy & Me story time, we played with puzzles, and borrowed lots and lots of books. We loved the kids performers – the magicians, the jugglers, and the science shows. It was a great time to get together with friends. The calendar was always full with upcoming activities.
It was a sad day when I realized my kids had outgrown the library. They were excited when they realized they were now going to a new room upstairs with a whole new variety of books, booths to sit in and computers work on. We quickly discovered, most of the time the door was locked and the room empty. The library staff were quick to unlock the door but it was soon locked again after the kids made their selection. The sense of feeling welcome was left in the first floor childrens’ room. My kids now prefer to just download a book on their electronic device and there is no real reason for them to head to the library anymore. It seems this is a common trend at many libraries and the middle and high school kids get lost. There is a void, a sense of loss of community that we had when the kids were little, we had loved the library.
The question I was left with is, what do you do when your kids outgrow the library? More and more people are turning to makerspaces. Makerspaces are community spaces where people can gather together for learning, exploring, making and sharing using a variety of tools and materials. Makerspaces are unique to the community they serve. Some may be in a small space consisting of primarily art supplies and Legos while others can be in a vast location offering a variety of tools and classes.
I recently had a chance to tour Technocopia, a makerspace in Worcester, with Lauren Monroe, the founder of Worcester Think Tank. Worcester Think Tank, established in 2008, is a youth education center providing hands-on experiences in science, technology and the arts for youth ages 8 to 17. Technocopia offers workshops, tool trainings and youth education. Memberships are available to individuals and families to use the space and tools. Workshops are offered to both members and non-members of the makerspace. The space includes a Design Studio, Glass Shop, a Metal Shop, a Laser Cutter, 3D Printers and a classroom with computers. The two organizations have formed a unique relationship, sharing a space and collaborating on a full time basis.
In addition to workshops throughout the year, Worcester Think Tank is offering 2-weeks of summer programs in August. There will be a variety of workshops including: Illuminated Sculpture where students will learn 3D printing, how to use a laser cutter to create a sculpture and electronics to light up the sculpture; Screen Printing where students will create a design and to screen print on a t-shirt.; Minecraft and 3D Printing workshop; and Art Biology.
…This may just be the answer to what we do now that we have outgrown the library.
Debbi - Proud mom of two beautiful boys who have benefited from some amazing STEM opportunities!