Contact: Nate Stone, firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Partners: Community College of Denver, City of Denver, Sparkfun, ARC of Colorado, Denver Film Society
The ideaLAB is a makerspace for teens ages 12-19 from across the Denver, Colorado metro area, housed in the Community Technology Center in Denver Public Library. We provide open lab time for teens to explore and learn; access to professional-level video editing and music production software and hardware; art supplies; equipment for electronics projects like LEDs, soldering irons, Arduino boards, and more; two 3D printers; a sewing machine; and we are always adding new equipment and software. In addition to open lab time, where our team of staff and volunteers work hand-in-hand with teens on whatever project may interest them, we also offer monthly workshops to help teens hone their skills and try new things: we’ve done everything from Adobe Illustrator workshops to “Toy Hacks”, where participants break apart old toys and create new ones. Teens earn badges as they hone their skills and show off their projects via our teen website. We’ve also started a “Summer of Tech,” providing a flurry of programming during the months of school vacation: this year, among other programs, we are offering DevCamp, a chance for teens to learn basic web development skills and meet professionals in the field, and BuildCamp, held in collaboration with the Community College of Denver, where teens will learn the nuts and bolts – literally – of computer hardware. This fall, we’re starting girls-only programming, opening an adult night, and otherwise working on making maker tools available to everyone in Denver.
Since opening in May of 2013, we’ve had more than 1600 visits from more than 195 individual teens, who have completed some. Teens have been earning badges – in both digital and physical form – for learning new skills in the ideaLAB across our six “tracks” of knowledge: music, web design, film, art and design, game production, and electronics (you can see all our badges and teen-created work at teens.denverlibrary.org/idealab). We just awarded our first “master badge”, the music maestro – for earning at least 80% of the music track badges and completing 10 projects – to a 13-year-old named Luis, who has been a regular since we opened our doors. Teens have done everything from Photoshopping their head on to a dog to building bristlebots from toothbrushes and vibrating motors to modding Minecraft recipes to recording and mastering original hip-hop. Our new 3D printers were immediately put into work printing out furniture for a model house, with working light switches built using LEDs, batteries, and copper tape. A collaborative program with Denver Film Society resulted in a 3-minute kung fu film that was so popular that our teens were asked to make a film for Denver Comic Con. One of our regular musicians, Sir Devon, was just interviewed on a local radio station, where they’ve played the track he recorded in the ideaLAB in regular rotation. In sum: we’re working with teens everyday to build on their preexisting interests to learn new skills and become lifelong learners: teens.denverlibrary.org/idealab.