Makers Factory: Creative Technology For All Ages in Santa Cruz

Makers Factory Santa CruzChances are you’ve heard of 3D printing by this point.

You’ve probably heard about the crazy things it allows scientists to produce, like human skin cells or guns.

But you might not have heard about the lighter side of 3D printing, which is what the Markers Factory in Santa Cruz focuses on.

While images of a dark lab, old white guys in even whiter coats, and intense formulas scribbled over every available surface may be springing to mind right now for the science-phobic among us, fear not!  What makes Makers Factory so great is its accessibility — they exist as a space where people of all levels of ability can come and learn more about 3D design.

Founded in 2011 by 3D design veterans Chris Yonge and Dave Britton, the Markers Factory doesn’t limit its offerings to 3D design and printing.  The company also provides services and classes in animation, modeling, robotics, and gaming — for makers of all ages.

With a plethora of different softwares and equipment, Makers Factory is committed to bringing out the makers in all of us, especially kids, for whom they have a great number of classes available.

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The Kids’ Camp offers classes for kids of all ages throughout the year.  The classes focus on game design, electronics, programming, and even the popular game Minecraft.

A blog post about a recently completed Minecraft class details how the students took the experience to a whole other level, ultimately learning about things like social contracts and civic duty:

In the early part of the camp, I explained to them that one of the main reasons we held the camp was to be able to provide a safe space for the campers to play the game, since there can be some nasty folk on the internet.  They took this a step further and decided to create a ‘Minecraft Constitution’ for themselves, a set of rules governing behavior in their new world.  The coolest thing about this for me as a teacher was seeing how rarely these rules were broken, and how quickly a camper was to recognize and apologize for breaking a rule.

Co-founder Dave Britton further explained the importance and relevance of a program like Minecraft, “MineCrafting allows students to move freely to and from the real world into virtual reality, online or offline,” says Britton.  “Digital technology learning is two sided, turning bits into atoms and atoms into bits.  Converging Information bits is the future of the world.”

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There are also classes offered to kids who are homeschooled, though the classes are open to anyone whose schedule permits them to attend.  There is also Makers Club, a more long-term after-school program that allows kids to work with professionals on more long-term, individual projects.

Looking toward the future, Britton spoke about being in the “alpha stage” of setting up MindCrafting, a program where MakersFactory could install MineCraft on school computers and train teachers how best to use it.

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“Teachers around the world are starting to see the benefits of MineCraftEdu, but the task of network installation and administration, software setup and training, and lesson plan creation is daunting to many,”  Britton says about why MakersFactory would be perfect for the job.

If you’re interested in learning more about Makers Factory, but don’t want to dive into a project head-first, you can check them out every First Friday, at their office inside the Cruzio building.  If you’re curious about a specific project you’d like them to complete, you can get a quote on their website.

Happy Making!

About Blair Stenvick

Blair Stenvick is a freelance writer who has lived in Santa Cruz for four years.