Since the mid 1990s, makerspaces have been popping up all over the US and the world. Originally known as hackerspaces or FabLabs, they are all places for making, collaborating, learning and sharing. The concept of a hackerspace started as places where a group of computer programmers could meet, work, and share infrastructure. They would “hack” technology and try to make it do something it wasn’t meant to do. This term “hacking” or “hacker” soon progressed and expanded into the hacking of physical objects.
Over the years, the price of maker tools such as 3D printers, desktop laser cutters and CNC routers became more affordable and hackerspaces naturally evolved into makerspaces. But a makerspace however doesn’t need to include all of these machines or even any of them to be considered a makerspace. It’s more of the maker mindset of creating something out of nothing and exploring your own interests that’s at the core of a makerspace.
Makerspaces such as Sprocket help to prepare kids with the critical 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). They provide hands on learning, help with critical thinking skills and even boost self-confidence.
Some of the skills that are learned in a makerspace pertain to electronics, 3D printing, 3D modeling, coding, robotics and even woodworking. Makerspaces are also fostering entrepreneurship and being utilized as incubators and accelerators for business startups.
Sprocket is a new makerspace, housed the Historic Coke Plant, in Paducah. The 4,000-square foot space has been donated for this three-year pilot project. Sprocket is available for students and adults to access through memberships, partnering agencies, and educational partners. It provides workshops, computers and digital tools, as well as tools for fabrication.
This not-for-profit organization believes their greatest impact will be felt in Sprocket learners who are middle school aged and younger.
Sprocket has been a couple of years in the making. It began with in-depth conversations between industry leaders in the region. They were in search of talent that could communicate effectively and solve problems in a rapidly changing technological environment. As one COO of a cyber security company put it: “I don’t care about the math, we need people who can think and solve challenges we’ve never had before.”
As local educators became aware of this growing need they looked at ways to cultivate creative and critical thinking in their students. Paducah Public Schools envisioned an Innovation Hub that would allow for exploration in the 21st century world of work through more project based learning. They then won a grant for this space for $3.8M from the Kentucky Workforce and Education Cabinet.
They know the “sit and get” style of learning that was good for production line work had to be replaced with opportunities to actively apply knowledge as solutions to real world problems. After two years of gathering input and data they opened Sprocket.
Sprocket has some great 3D printers and equipment thanks to donations and grants they’ve received. They just received a large number of computers from a major car manufacturer. However, they want to be ‘the place’ where you can learn and use specialized equipment that you’re not likely to keep at home.
Thus, the Wish List! They will accept used equipment or donations for specific tools.
Click Here for a list of items that you can donate.
If you want to get a membership for yourself, your child or your organization please contact 270.681.2772 or emailing email@example.com.
Sprocket is a non-profit 501C3 makerspace. They serve as a pilot to help develop educational programs for the Paducah Innovation Hub as well as entrepreneurial innovations in the region. Visit https://sprocketpaducah.com for more information.