Looking to give his own kids and their friends opportunities to learn about high tech making and inspired by Gever Tulley’s TED talk, Andy Forest along with Marianne Mader started a “Tinkering Club” summer camp in their garage in 2010. As a web developer and a tinkerer, Andy brought some skills with him, but more importantly brought an attitude of honoring kids abilities. The main point was to help them to learn and discover what they wanted to! They made boats and sunk them full of kids in lake Ontario. They made hacked nerf guns with Arduino to be motion-activated. They had a lot of fun and became confident in their abilities as makers!
After the first camp, Andy noticed a big change in his own kids – they started teaching themselves. Through online resources and experimentation, they were learning to make all kinds of things on their own. They would just hand Andy lists of tools and materials that they needed. A child who asks for a soap making supplies and a drawing tablet for Christmas is a life-long learner.
So in the spring of 2012, Andy and Marianne acquired a permanent makerspace location and formed a non-profit organisation. The goal was to provide a place to give kids access to the technologies, materials and skills that they couldn’t get on their own, and teach them that they are capable of anything! They even used their wedding as a fundraiser, and got their first 3D printer. During renovations, they knew they were on to something when kids who had been to the camp would see them walking by their house and would run outside shouting “When are you opening!?”
Since then, thousands of kids have come through the doors and emerged as robotics engineers, wood workers, costumers, video game developers, animators, 3D designers, Minecraft programmers and super heroes! We’re so proud of our army of kids prepared to invent the future together.
Now with STEAMLabs, Andy and Marianne are excited to expand their original vision to bring the world of high tech making to people of all ages and all abilities! They aspire to provide a community hub for all makers to share ideas, problem solve, and to bring their ideas to life.