Makerspaces (AKA hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs) are creative, do-it-yourself (DIY) spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn. A large number of them have been opened in libraries and more recently in public spaces and on campuses.
The makerspace may contain 3D printers, software, electronics, craft and hardware supplies and tools that most individuals can't afford to own but want to learn to use.
I read an EDUCAUSE "7 Things" sheet back in 2013 on makerspaces that had predicted that "As makerspaces have become more common on campuses and have found their place in public libraries and community centers, their influence has spread to other disciplines and may one day be embraced across the curriculum. Eventually makerspaces may become linked from campus to campus, encouraging joint project collaboration." They even went as far as to say that the work done there "may one day be accepted and reviewed for college credit in lieu of more conventional coursework."
From my observation, they seem to have made more inroads in K-12 than in colleges. This month, there will be a Makers Day here in New Jersey (March 21 - see http://njmakersday.org) which I will unfortunately miss as I will be at another conference. I'd like to see what people are doing in NJ because I am working on a presentation that involves makerspaces for another conference in May.
The benefits of having a makerspace in an academic setting or available to students offers many opportunities. Providing the space and materials for physical learning works because it can be cross-disciplinary, provide technical help for work they are undertaking. It seems more STEM, STEAM or suited to engineering and technology but if you look at the projects in some of the links below there is a lot that id outside those areas. If you see students work in these spaces, you have to be impressed how students take control of their own learning with projects they define, design and create.
Although I work in higher education, anyone who teaches at any grade level knows that students love hands-on projects. I think that these spaces are a very fertile ground for work that bridges ages - a great place for K-20 work and a way to connect parents and the community to schools.
FIND OUT MORE
http://makerspace.com is probably the world's largest community of Makers, from Maker Faire and Make: Magazine
Watch Makerspaces in Libraries youtube.com/watch?v=hOqTcQedDrw and an example from the Westport Library youtube.com/watch?v=nurj3zBlfIg
A list of makerspaces in libraries http://library-maker-culture.weebly.com/makerspaces-in-libraries.html
Make it at your library makeitatyourlibrary.org http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/a-librarians-guide-to-makerspaces/
Makerspaces in K-12 schools edutopia.org/blog/creating-makerspaces-in-schools
Some of the tech tools and resources used are very sophisticated, such as a 3D Printer http://cucfablab.org/book/3d-printers or an electronic cutter http://cucfablab.org/book/electronic-vinyl-cutters, but they might be much more familiar, such as the Xbox Kinect 3D scanner http://cucfablab.org/book/3d-scan-and-print-yourself-3d or a computerized sewing machine http://www.brother-usa.com/Homesewing