Left Photo: 3D PRINTING 101 WORKSHOP | Isaac Hiber - V.P.
Middle Photo: H.O.P.E. FLOATS 2019 | Josh Zehner - President
Right Photo: CRICUT SIGN DESIGN WORKSHOP | Board Member Angie Miller
We are a country built on the Do-It-Yourself spirit, but as each generation strives to create a better life for their children, some of the skills and attitudes once required on a day-to-day basis have become static or fallen to disuse. Trades that were once passed down from parent to child have become obsolete in the shadow of the technology boom, and classes that used to teach these skills are no longer an important part of public school’s curriculum as they once were. Yet, as their teaching has become scarce, the interest in learning and maintaining these skills has risen, and the demand for access to the tools and spaces needed to learn them has grown along with it. Enter the ‘maker movement’, a surging culture of like-minded aficionados whose interest is in spreading the DIY gospel to people with a thirst for learning. In addition to promoting access to knowledge and tools of fading trades and crafts, many offer the same benefit regarding newer technologies, including computing, creating with Cricut, and 3-D printers. And since many people do not have access to the equipment and materials to pursue such specialized curriculum, the ‘maker movement’ is better advanced by the availability of a ‘makerspace’. It was this need and the opportunity to fulfill it that inspired the Round Barn Lab. "You always hear about these large companies like Google, or Yankee Candle, that were started in their garage; a makerspace could be your garage that you start your successful company from." says RBL president, Josh Zehner. The Round Barn Lab is Fulton County’s own version of a makerspace. Founded in July of 2018, the not-for-profit organization seeks to provide a central location featuring a variety of tools in a learning environment for young and old alike. A hands-on place to collaborate, educate, and create, the space will offer access to a workshop and equipment that users might not normally have available to them, and an invitation to freely express themselves through their work. "Kids seem to be most excited learning about micro-processing and robotics," says Zehner. "We try to encourage creativity and fun along with providing instruction." The RBL has already tested the waters of interests in Fulton County via workshops and exhibits at the library, and at other public events that gave them an opportunity to set up a table to introduce themselves and show off some of the potential things makerspace users might have an opportunity to do. They are continuing to explore options for a permanent space to house the RBL, and look forward to expanding on the types of equipment and services the community might need. “You can do a lot of cool and useful things with access to the right tools and the knowledge of how to use them,” Zehner says. “And as we grow, we expect to bring in different equipment and the people with the skill sets to teach how to use them.” The makerspace would also be open for use by local businesses for training or other purposes not met by their own work space. The goal is for it to be a catalyst for community use as a means to support other local businesses and services. “Skills can be learned, and knowledge is meant to share,” says Zehner. “We’re looking forward to providing a safe, productive place where we can facilitate that happening.”
The mission of the Round Barn Lab makerspace is to provide an all-inclusive, inviting location in Rochester, Indiana where any member can come together to collaborate, learn, and create. A makerspace is a place for others to be makers and build local support, opportunities, and a new form of enjoyment for the community. www.roundbarnlab.com