Maker Movement

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

The general manager of TechShop Pittsburgh is hopeful the community workshop space can stay open beyond the anticipated closing date of Sept. 1.

“I don’t want to set any expectations that we can’t deliver on, but that’s what we’re working on,” said Gadsden Merrill, who was part of the original staff at TechShop Pittsburgh when it opened in Bakery Square in 2013.

San Jose-based TechShop announced June 1 it planned to close its Pittsburgh location.

Prototype PGH

Louise Larson, 28, of Garfield has recently gotten interested in wood turning, the process of using a lathe to make something out of a block of wood. She said during a recent visit to a wood working shop to purchase some of those blocks, called blanks, she was bothered by how the cashier treated her.

Take a look this summer inside some of America's garages, museums and libraries and you'll see that the "maker movement" is thriving.

This hands-on, DIY culture of inventors, tinkerers and hackers is inspiring adults and children alike to design and build everything from sailboats and apps to solar cars.

And this fall, more of these chaotic workspaces, stocked with glue guns, drills and hammers, will be popping up in schools, too.

But the maker movement faces some big hurdles as it pushes into classrooms.

Here's the first big one:

Pittsburgh Maker Faire

It’s Burning Man meets craft fair meets science fair meets art, said Pittsburgh Maker Faire Director Kayce Dewey.

Courtesy Maker Faire Pittsburgh

Maker Faire Pittsburgh is now accepting applications from artists, scientists, inventors and tinkerers who want to showcase their work at this year’s event.

“Maker Faire is the greatest show-and-tell on earth,” said lead organizer Kayce Dewey. “It’s a combination between craft fair meets science fair meets Burning Man.”

Creating 'Breakthrough Moments' At Fort Cherry's Maker Space

May 11, 2016
Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

As part of Remake Learning Days, Essential Pittsburgh is exploring two of the 11 districts and six individual schools in the region that have signed on to the Maker Promise, which is part of the White House-sponsored Digital Promise. While the Digital Promise works to put more technology into schools, the Maker Promise refines that to encourage the creation of maker spaces in schools that may or may not include new technologies.

What's Being Made At Pittsburgh's Maker Faire

Oct 9, 2015
Maker Faire Pgh / Facebook

From robots, to rockets to bicycles: this weekend, Maker Faire Pittsburgh will exhibit the work of many creative minds from all over the region.

Dale Dougherty, creator of Maker Faire, said ‘maker’ is an umbrella term that broadly defines anyone who builds, creates, or puts something together.

“I think one of the elements of Maker Faire is that we’re using technology often to transform materials and turn it into something that means something to us and to other people,” he said.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA News

Chris Williams, 34, tilts a delicately etched wooden cube from side to side. His body shifts as it sends out electronic tones. It’s poplar. It’s organic. It’s electronic. It’s… a game.

The box, dubbed Coral, is Williams’ first foray into audio memory entertainment for the visually impaired. With wires and electronics hidden in a laser-engraved, wooden enclosure, the toy produces tonal sequences its players identify and match by rotating in four directions, similar to the children’s game Simon. Players can also use the custom carvings as tactile cues, he said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

One school of thought in adapting to a new generation of learners is to take students out of traditional classrooms where desks point toward an instructor.

To do that, educators create a maker space where students can explore and question content.

Libraries use maker spaces, the Carnegie Science Center has a new digital fabrication lab, and Mayor Bill Peduto held a roundtable discussion on the importance of them. Entrepreneurs use them to collaborate and have access to materials they otherwise couldn’t afford on their own.

President Barack Obama wants some advice from Pittsburgh’s “maker” community.

That’s why Mayor Bill Peduto hosted a roundtable Monday afternoon to discuss the achievements and future of the city's “Maker Movement,” which refers to using tools such as 3D printers and computer-aided designs to build everything from circuitry to jewelry.