Like other leaders in the movement, she sees maker spaces as tremendous community-building assets. “There is so much great stuff going on here, but there is a huge inertia, too. The idea is really to build a community in Miami,” she said.
MakeShop Miami is working with the Miami Science Museum, which wants to do more maker events for kids, like the “Cardboard Challenge” on a recent Saturday.
For several hours, about 20 youngsters, most 4 to 8 years old, engineered friendly cardboard castles (no moats or dungeons, thank you), a drum set, games, houses, ramps — you name it, all from cardboard and other recycled materials, with the help of their parents, museum staffers and MakeShop volunteers. According to Hansen, this is the ideal age to grab their interest in all things making. Indeed, the young makers were so busy that they pretty much ignored the heaping plates of chicken wings and cookies.
James Herring, exhibits director of the museum, has been attending conventions and meetings with museums around the country about creating maker spaces and events within museum walls, pointing to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, Austin Children’s Museum and the Exploratorium in San Francisco as notable examples of forward thinking.
The museum has also recently renovated its Teen Tech Center to include more digital activities involving animation and videos, and will host maker events for teens, including partnering with Florida International University on CoderDojo events for kids.
The museum’s new downtown facility, opening in 2015, will include additional maker exhibits and events, Herring said. Miami Science Museum is one of many museums locally and nationally that are opening up spaces or increasing their maker exhibits and events.
The Delray Beach Center for the Arts, for instance, hosted a four-week "maker camp" this summer for kids ranging in age from about 8 to 16, who were introduced to electronics, robotics and 3D printing and took part in activities including building a functioning “banana piana.” Funded in part by Make Magazine, the camp was one of 100 around the world and the only one in the Southeast.
The camp was put on by Irene Revelas and her Startup Delray, an organization that promotes entrepreneurship, and Palm Beach LED, a company that runs maker events and is actively looking for its own maker space in northern Palm Beach County, said Pierre Baillargeon, one of the founders of Palm Beach LED.
Meanwhile, Herrero has been busy rallying the community to participate in the first Miami Mini Maker Faire Nov. 16 at The LAB Miami, The Lightbox at Goldman Warehouse and O Cinema. He and his partners at MIAMade are also trying to bring makers out of the woodwork.
“One of the challenges we’ve faced . . . is reaching craftsmen, artists and engineers from our diverse ethnic populations,” said Herrero. “Haitian urban farmers, Brazilian apparel makers, Mexican mechanical engineers, Cuban inventors — they’re all here . . . but they have yet to coalesce around a maker movement as many other makers have in other major cities around the world.”
Makers who want to exhibit can apply at makerfairemiami.com through Sunday, and Herrero hopes hundreds will come out to learn more about the movement. “We want this event to put South Florida on the maker map.”
Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg