Mark Barnett and the Makerspace


In the Summer of 2013, Mark Barnett of VentureLabs approached me about documenting a summer program he was running at Art Pace where VentureLab created Venture Lab Maker Lab.  Along with a grant from Make Magazine, Mark and VentureLab outfitted the lab with STEAM oriented hardware and software such as 3D printers, laser cutters, ipads, makey makey’s and legos, amongst other materials.  

VentureLabs was founded by Cristal Glangchai Ph.D. with the goal of creating entrepreneurial experiences for youth.  With Dr. Glangchai’s oversight, Mark Barnett developed the makerspace and reached out to Crystal City’s Middle School Benito Juarez’s faculty to develop a summer experience for their youth. 

Crystal City, Texas is a community rooted in education reform and a re-thinking of socio and political issues. La Raza and La Raza Libre were founded here and had a presence throughout the community. Mark visited the Crystal City school district and their respective schools when he worked for Region 20 and had built a rapport with them that allowed for this collaboration.

Working with some Crystal City teachers Mark and the teacher were able to put together a group of students ranging from the age of 9-14 to come to Makerspace and participate in a truly revolutionary maker movement.  Mark worked with local non-profits to house the space and sponsor the initiative.

What transpired from his efforts were amazing.  We were allowed to document Crystal City’s students week at the makerspace with Mark and the Crystal City community’s permission.  It was truly amazing to see how both the adults and students took to the space.  The adults and students worked with Mark and a group of volunteers throughout the week, learning about electronics, software, 3D printing and the concept of being a “Hacker”.

As you will see in the videos, programs like Mark’s are examples of the types of ways STEAM can help us transcend traditional communities and allow them to experience a space where their imagination and creativity are challenged, yet guided in a positive pedagogical way.

As a collective we came away with a sense of awe for the initiative Mark Barnett put together.  Our hope at the time of this effort was to document other such initiatives as they came to fruition.  Looking back almost a year, we have succeeded in being able to do so. We encourage others who are doing such creative initiatives to let us know about it because we are always looking for the next Maker Mark!

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