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The Creation Station, Broward County Library’s first makerspace and gadget lab, introduces the community to resources, technology and programming that provide creative learning, fabrication and entrepreneurial opportunities. It is a dedicated space at Broward County’s Main Library, with 3D design/printing equipment, state-of-the-art MacIntosh computers, Leap Motion technology and robotics. The Creation Station supports STEM and active learning by providing a hands-on lab for learners of all ages and by serving as a pathway for Broward County youth to create and invent in a 21st-century digital learning environment. It allows customers the opportunity to explore new and emerging technology in a gathering space that encourages both critical and creative thinking. The Creation Station supports entrepreneurship and small business development through utilization of its resources, including tools and equipment too specialized or expensive to own. As a space where adults, families, teens, and children are able to utilize equipment, technology, and programming, the Creation Station enables new forms of learning, creativity, personal manufacturing and business opportunities. Additionally, the Library’s Summer R.E.A.D.ing (Reading, Exploring, Art and Discovery) supports the makerspace movement by providing hundreds of STEM-themed programs for children and teens, including computer coding for teens, hands-on science experiments, engineering workshops and more. A S.T.E.A.M. Makers Day is planned for July and September is designated as “Maker Month” with several of the 37 Library locations hosting DIY events. Creation Station is a system-wide initiative with several libraries are already hosting computer coding classes and camps as well as technology discovery sessions.
The Creation Station opened its doors in January 2014; since then there has been an average of 1,200 visitors each month. Adults, school groups, including foreign-exchange students and local elementary, middle and high school-level students, have visited the Creation Station and created an exciting and varied number of products. This hands-on, interactive learning experience enhances STEM skills. Members of the community have utilized the Creation Station, with many using the 3D printers to create individual items. Major projects created include a prosthetic thumb for a handicapped customer, which was created with the assistance of the Creation Station’s two-person staff. A visually impaired customer created a device that worked in conjunction with her Braille and audio devices, allowing her greater freedom and mobility at home. Entrepreneurs and non-profit groups have designed logos and promotional items, such as a plastic jigsaw puzzle used to promote autism awareness. Another customer created a 3D chess set that he made to teach himself chess. Fun, creative items have also been designed, such as cell phone cases, costume jewelry and fashion accessories (popular items for tweens/teens visiting the Creation Station), custom guitar picks for a visiting musician and more. The Creation Station has provided the community, which serves a varied population, including many underserved youth, with the opportunity to develop and hone STEM skills in a positive and encouraging environment. This provides supplemental STEM learning opportunities to those who might not otherwise have the chance to make, create and innovate: www.broward.org/library/creationstation.