A Mobile Place for Making, All for Teens

A Mobile Place for Making, All for Teens


In the spring of 2013, the Palo Alto Art Center and the Palo Alto City Library embarked upon an exciting project with local teens—the creation of a mobile makerspace. Funded by a California State Library grant, this project will result in a mobile makerspace, created by and for local teens, that will premiere at the Art Center in August 2013 and then travel to libraries and community centers throughout Palo Alto. Twenty-two local teens are participating in the project as paid and volunteer designers, working closely with Art Center and Library staff as well as project consultants: architects Noll & Tam and author and educational consultant Bernie Trilling.




What is a makerspace?

The maker movement has captured the imagination of people around the world, as evident in the extreme popularity of the Maker Faire, which draws hundreds of thousands of people to the Bay Area and now has expanded throughout the world. Makerspaces, an offshoot of this trend, are now popping up in libraries and museums throughout the country. Makerspace defines these spaces as: “a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials, and develop creative projects…the key is that it can adapt to a wide variety of uses and can be shaped by educational purposes as well as the students’ creative goals.” The Library as Incubator Project describes these spaces as “collaborative learning environments where people come together to share materials and learn new skills…makerspaces are not necessarily born out of a set of materials or spaces, but rather a mindset of community partnership, collaboration, and creation."



What are the project goals?

  • To design and develop a third space1 for Palo Alto middle-school and high-school age teens that is a “space of their own” that promotes self-directed and mentored creative expression and learning about art and technology, meets the educational and social needs of the teen audience and through its mobile nature, encourages participation by teen audiences throughout the City.
  • To involve teens extensively in the planning process in a manner that will promote their engagement in the design thinking process and demonstrate the applications of design thinking concepts in life and learning.
  • To create an environment in which teen voices are heard, validated, and used to determine the final design.
  • To contribute to the City of Palo Alto’s overall goal of improving the well-being of young people by expanding programming for teens by the Art Center and City Library.
  • To contribute to the City of Palo Alto’s City Council priority of “Technology and the Connected City.”
  • To create, prototype, and model a project that can be replicated throughout libraries and museums.


1 Coined by Ray Oldenburg in his book The Great Good Place, the term “third space” refers to a community gathering location that is not work, not home.


makeX Opening Celebration

Sunday, September 1 2-5 p.m.
Palo Alto Art Center
1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto

After months of planning, the teen-designed mobile makerspace makeX will open at the Palo Alto Art Center. makeX is a space where Palo Alto youth can go to employ their creative talents in making projects and learning about art and technology through exploration of tools and equipment including a laser cutter.


makeX was supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

Last Updated: May 17, 2013