The Making of the Maker Space

by MiriYam Judd

There’s an art to making something with your hands, a beauty to it that you can’t find by simply
going out and buying it. The physical act of using your effort and energy to make something all
on your own, it’s incomparable.

And that was the reasoning behind the JCC’s Makerspace. Before the 2016 fire, no such place
existed. But the rebuilding thereafter gave promise to something new, a different kind of
environment than had ever before been seen in the building.

Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the existence of makerspace across the
country: in towns, schools and community centers. They help provide hands-on, creative ways
to get people thinking, building, designing and experimenting. They contain elements of
woodshop, computer labs, science labs, and art studios. Sometimes, they’re all those things at

David Bennett, Makerspace Coordinator, worked as a science teacher for 30 years before
taking on his role here at the JCC. “We live in a disposable society,” he said, “where things get
thrown out instead of reused. People don’t know how to make things themselves because
they’ve never been taught.” And that’s the whole point of the Maker Space: to teach them.
Through the Maker Space, Bennett has taught classes to a range of willing participants:
children, seniors with physical issues, and adults with developmental disorders. The Maker
Space has collaborated with JFS (Jewish Family Services) to teach fine motor skills to those
who need them.

Aside from designated classes, the Maker Space can and has been used by after school
groups, for birthday parties, and with JCC campers. Bennett puts together kits for the kids to
build, sets of pieces that, once assembled, turn into a car or a boat. oHe teaches the children
how to properly handle tools and how to work with their hands to make something out of

More than anything, JCC’s Maker Space aims to provide a creative outlet to those who crave
one. “It all comes down to whether you want to be passive or active,” Bennett went on. “It’s the
difference between reading a book or watching a movie. Between building something or buying
something.” And while it may seem daunting initially, the reactions of those after their time in the
Maker Space is priceless. “There was one gentleman who came in to make a basket for his
bread,” Bennett recalled. “It came out so well that once the first one was finished, he came in to
make a bunch more, and said he was giving them to his friends as gifts.”
For more information on the Maker Space, please contact coordinator David Bennet at

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