Makers are Rural Economic Developers and Educators

What is a maker you ask? Dale Dougherty writing in Free to Make: How the Maker Movement is Changing Our Schools, Our Jobs, and Our Mind

Makers are people who regard technology as an invitation to explore and experiment, with the most inclusive possible definition of technology, meaning any skill or technique that we learn and employ. What we once called hobbyists, tinkerers, artists, inventors, engineers, crafters— all of them are makers. The power of “maker” as a new term lies in its broad application, its sense of inclusiveness, and its lack of close alignment with a particular field or interest area, so people are free to claim the identity for themselves.
[. . .]
If we characterize the Maker Movement as driven by amateurs, it’s because makers will attempt to do things just to challenge themselves and take experiments about as far they can go, without asking anyone’s permission or expecting a professional’s compensation for their efforts. A kind of freedom that many professionals never experience for themselves, when authority and funding are often a prerequisite for action.

Nevada County has two maker organizations, The Curious Forge in Nevada City and The Round House in Truckee. Ellen and I visited the Curious Forge this week for a tour, and assessment of their ability to stimulate Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.  The tour was conducted by Cory a volunteer and advocate for the organization.

Each area of the Forge is segmented by activity, woodworking, metalworking, welding, jewelry making, pottery, electronics, 3D printing, laser cutting, sewing, multi-media and soon co-working spaces. Each activity has two managers who oversee the activity and certify potential makers to use the equipment safely. Once certified the maker could use the equipment unsupervised.

The pictures below were taken during our Curious Forge tour:

Ellen at Entry

Ellen at Curious Forge Entry into former GV Group Manufacturing Building



Electonic Workstations



3D Printer Workstations


Woodworking Shop Area



Donated Large bed CNC Machine, not yet operating



Demonstration items produced by Laser Cutter.



Laser Cutter of Foreground with Workstations in background


AR Sandbox

Augmented Reality Sandbox


Contours Projected on sand in the box


Simulated rain filling lake created in the sandbox

The sandbox was created by two UC Davis Computer Scientist. It was fascinating to move the sand with your hand and see the contours adjusting to the movement. The contours are measured by an X-Box sensor above the box and then projected on the sand.

Makers are using the Curious Forge to create products for sale, to show, to use, to amaze.

More detail at the website HERE.

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