Mobile Makerspace Grant Proposal

I just applied for a $20K grant for my Mobile Makerspace concept. While I’ve been working on the idea for more than a year, if you count my first mobile makerspace prototypes, I didn’t start writing the grant until the last minute. This was a failure on my part as I could have received assistance from experienced grant writers to improve the proposal. I am posting the key portion of the grant application so that my friends can help awesomize it and brainstorm ways to make this dream a reality.

We propose to create a Mobile Makerspace Project composed of a Pop-Up Makerspace and a library of 10 Mini Makerspace Kits to bring hands on learning to students throughout our county. The Mobile Makerspace design will be modular, customizable and scalable. The Mobile Makerspace project is flexible to provide learning opportunities from a school wide STEAM event to a small after-school club. The project expands space by converting any environment including classrooms, libraries, gyms, cafeterias or outdoor areas into a functional hands on learning environment for students to create interest driven work. The project expands time by providing in-school and after-school opportunities for innovative modes of learning.

Scenario: A large scale event for a school STEAM week will see the Pop-Up Makerspace rolled into a school and setup in a library on a Monday afternoon. The Pop-Up Makerspace will deploy tools for digital fabrication, physical computing, programming and crafting. School staff will receive training on constructivist learning practices to guide students in creating interest-driven, production-centered work. The teachers will leave the training with a Mini Makerspace Kit to take to their classroom and use throughout the week for student projects. Classes will rotate through the Pop-Up Makerspace during the week to use the larger set of maker tools.

Afterschool activities in the Pop-Up Makerspace will allow students to continue with interest driven projects. The week will culminate in an after-school Mini Maker Fair in which students showcase their projects to the community. The school will use this opportunity to generate community support for hands-on learning and can fundraise to bring Makerspace tools to the school on a permanent basis. Students share their projects on the Mobile Makerspace website.

Scenario: A school anime club meets regularly after-school and wants to create costumes for a teen run convention. The club sponsor and school librarian arrange to check out a digital fabrication and a wearable electronics focused Mini Makerspace Kit. The kits arrive via the daily inter-school delivery. The students use the kits to work on their costumes in the library. Hitting a stumbling block the students and sponsor check the included instruction workbook and online Mobile Makerspace website for help on using the vinyl cutter and conductive thread for the circuits. A Mobile Makerspace volunteer sees the work in progress blog and offers to come to a meeting to help the students with any remaining issues in finishing their costumes. The students compete their project and post photos of the costumes and the event on the Mobile Makerspace website.

These scenarios represent the range of opportunities that are possible with the Mobile Makerspace project. Instead of offering only a training or demo the Mobile Makerspace Project provides the resources to implement and practice innovative instructional strategies. Once students, teachers, and communities have experienced success creating interest-driven, production-centered work they will implement these strategies on an ongoing basis.

The flexibility of the Mobile Makerspace project is designed to meet the needs of the widest range of students. The team believes that the project will impact thousands of students within the first year of the program.