by Samantha Hyde

The Fountain Square Corps on Indianapolis’ south side is home to Indiana’s newest makerspace. It’s  the first fully functioning, free makerspace (a collaborative space where people gather to create, invent and learn) in the neighborhood thanks to support from 1st Maker Space, a variety of grants and donations from local supporters.

This creative space will play a central role in the corps’ developing afterschool program, S.M.A.R.T.  (Students Mentoring in Arts, Recreation and Technology). Using free online software and two 3D printers provided by 1st Maker Space, students will be able to print creations they design and engineer themselves.

“We are envisioning bringing in the whole family,” said Lt. Brandon Lewis, who leads the corps with his wife, Lt. Megan. “We want to equip families in our area with the tools for solving problems at home.”

From designing and building functioning door hinges to creating doorstops, kitchen utensils and flowerpots, the 3D process encourages creativity. “It’s giving people the idea of making your own future and thinking outside the box,” said the lieutenant. “It really inspires people to take that extra step and solve it themselves and be proud of the unique solution that they come to.”

The makerspace includes a hands-on crafting area where kids are challenged to come up with creative solutions and new ideas. Open source tool storage places dozens of tools around the room on specialized brackets. A shadow painted behind each tool helps kids find, use and replace tools with  ease, giving children as young as five or six the confidence to seek the best tool for the task at hand.

Eight computers currently fill the new makerspace, each equipped with software students can use to  work on homework.

“We have an advisory council member who has taught life skills courses that are open to the public,” Lt. Brandon added. “This makerspace will be a part of that, as well. It will provide another tool for them to use for creating budgets and helping people find jobs and submit resumes.”

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