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Kentucky Makerspaces

“It’s kind of like a gym membership, except for your brain and your creative talents.”

That’s how David Helmers, a partner at Kre8now Makerspace in Lexington, describes his business. Kre8now members have access to space and equipment to design, build, and program just about anything they can dream up, and gain inspiration for new projects as well.

“I always ask what brought them in in the first place and they might say, ‘Well, I’d really like to do woodworking but it I don’t have this tool, or I don’t have this joiner,’” says Michael Kreisle, Executive Director of Kre8now. “But then they get in here and they see somebody over here making a mold or they see somebody blowing some glass or they see somebody welding and it’s like oh, they do that here, too. That’s pretty cool when they find out they can learn other things with their memberships. Instead of just having access to a table saw you have access to everything.”

Members can learn from each other, and there are also formal classes held at the space that don’t require membership. Classes have included instruction on CNC machines, 3-D printing, sewing, coding, and woodworking, and new classes are added to the curriculum regularly.

The Makerspace is in the business of making makers,” says Helmers. “Lots of products and devices and knickknacks and craft projects get made here, but most importantly we’re making people into lifetime makers.”

In Campbellsville, K-12 students can take advantage of a makerspace that provides opportunities for hands-on learning and creating.

“The Northern Kentucky Makerspace came in 2015,” says Emily Greene, Coordinator for Expanded Learning Opportunities. “We had a group of robotics students in the sixth, seventh, and ninth grades who said, we’re not having a place to learn and really take ownership of our learning in our schools. They went to our Boone County Board of Education and asked for this to be created.”

The space includes six different labs for different areas of learning and experimentation. The “make your own” lab is a woodshop with power tools and hand tools. The audio and video labs are equipped with a green screen, cameras, software, and audio equipment. The design thinking room has seven 3-D printers that students can use to design and create items. True to the original inspiration for the space, there’s a full robotics lab. And finally, the engineering room, sponsored by Toyota, provides learning opportunities around circuitry work, programming, and other computer-based projects.

The building has a capacity of about 120 students, but more than 8,000 students have been involved in the Northern Kentucky Makerspace. Demand for these resources continues to be high and the benefits of the programs are becoming evident as students move into higher education.

“I can’t tell you how thankful I am to get the texts and emails that I do saying, ‘I’m a junior at UK in the engineering department and I’m still so ahead of the curve because of what we did at makerspace,’” says Greene. “I think it’s important to really invigorate students at a young age and give them that passion so that they do have an interest and continue to pursue that.”

This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2403, which originally aired on October 20, 2018. Watch the full episode.