Picture this: you’re in a room with like-minded designers, programmers, and coders. You all want the same thing: to innovate. A makerspace. Now imagine that space–the oddest inventions, the whir of electronics and the smell of cutting oil. Ahhhh.

You may be part of a makerspace. You may have started one. You may really want to start one, be it in your garage or that 50,000 warehouse downtown that’s waiting for someone to buy it. You may have experienced the  joys and pains of such a venture, but if you haven’t, read on.

John Spencer, a former middle school teacher, college professor, and co-creator of a  design thinking framework for K-12 students, wrote an article about his experiences in creating a makerspace for his students. He isn’t a bigshot innovator; he just wants to give his students a place to create their ideas. Armed with nothing more than a basic knowledge of coding, simple technology, and a meager budget, John learned three things to work around limitations.

makerspace tips

1. Don’t plan too much and just work with what you have

The first version of anything is never the final product. It’s never good to overthink about something and end up not doing it at all. Instead of worrying about your makerspace being the perfect hole where ideas can thrive, just get out there and work on it.

Determine a MVP (minimal viable product) for your makerspace which is simple yet considers all the basics. This way, you can add more to the initial space while still getting work done. There will always be time to make adjustments, but there will never be a way to get back all the time wasted daydreaming about a makerspace.

makerspace tips

2. You don’t need the best supplies to have a good makerspace

Be it a 3D printer or the newest iMac, you don’t need a lot of expensive gadgets for your makerspace to work properly. Having trouble with noisy neighbors? Glue some egg cartons onto the walls. Don’t have the newest 3D modelling software? Sometimes clay works just as well.

As long as you don’t forget the most important resource of all (it’s your brain, in case you were wondering), many things can be repurposed to fit your needs. You may discover cheaper alternatives present themselves as time goes on.

makerspace tips

3. Help from others goes a long way

Even if you happen to be the offspring of Einstein and a supercomputer, those smarts won’t get you far without other people to back you up. Not only can you get more work done, but you also have others who share your vision for the makerspace and what you want to accomplish with it.

They can even fill you in on topics you aren’t well-versed in. Even though John Spencer was technically the only teacher in his makerspace, collaborating with his friend Javier and his students helped him expand his horizons. In seeing that their teacher was willing to learn, the students developed the same mindset which is at the core of innovation.

These are just a few basic tips to keep in mind when making your own makerspace. When you realize that the best ideas come from collaboration rather than how much expensive tech you have, you can focus on making something totally unique.

The article is a must read if you’ve thought about starting up a makerspace or even turning your garage into a project room. John has a challenge for you at the end of the article too – you may start sweating when you see it, and have a sore rear end from kicking yourself in the butt, finally creating that makerspace.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.