All kids love making things (even if, sometimes, it’s only a mess). But with the rise of the Maker movement—famously on display at Maker Faires around the country, and in our backyard—maker spaces have taken things far beyond pipe cleaners and paper towel rolls. Some maker spaces are all about found materials and power tools, others use 3D printers, laser cutters, and circuit-boards. All of them offer supervision and space to create. We’ve rounded up some of NYC’s favorite and newest Maker spaces, featuring programs for preschoolers through high-schoolers, and sometimes, even parents!
Skill Mill NYC photo: via Skill Mill NYC Facebook page
When You Can’t Decide Where You Want To Go
Dazzling Discoveries/Skill Mill
It’s a two-fer on the Upper West Side! Neighborhood favorite, Dazzling Discoveries, which has been offering children as young as six the chance to become engineers and makers by combining recyclables with construction materials, batteries, lights and motors, recently opened a second site, Skill Mill NYC, just a few blocks away. And what does Skill Mill NYC have that Dazzling Discoveries doesn’t? How about a 3-D printer and a laser cutter, guaranteeing that anything your child can visualize, they can also bring to life!
Best Part: At Dazzling Discoveries, classes are for children 12 and under, while Skill Mill NYC accommodates the high school and beyond set. It’s a MakerSpace for the entire family!
Cost: $35-$60 per class (rolling admission)
971 Columbus Ave.
Upper West Side
Skill Mill NYC
949 Amsterdam Ave.
Upper West Side
photo: via Brooklyn Robot Foundry Facebook page
Brooklyn Robot Foundry
Brooklyn Robot Foundry started in Brooklyn (clearly), then expanded to Manhattan’s Tribeca, which was followed by an outpost on the Upper East Side. Its most recent locations opened in the South Slope on 5th Avenue and Boerum Hill on Atlantic Avenue. Tiny Builders ages 2-4 can get a head start on their engineering careers (along with a caregiver), while elementary schoolers build their own arcades, bumper cars, speed racers and even crawling bugs.
Best Part: Family Robot Building Clubs are available, as are exclusive engineering clubs for girls only.
Cost: Varies depending on length and number of classes, also requires materials fee
1595 2nd Ave.
Upper East Side
200 Church St.
303 3rd Ave.
586 Fifth Ave.
347-762-6840 (all locations)
photo: via Launch Math + Science Centers Facebook page
Launch Math + Science Centers
Kids with the inclination to design and build can sink their skills into the center’s “I wanna be…An Engineer!” program. The Pre-K and K offerings find young ones creating mechanical puppets and electric marble mazes, while older kids explore fundamentals of architecture and design.
Best Part: Launch is serious about summer science. It offers camps in — count ’em — five locations: uptown, downtown, east side and west side.
Cost: Varies by class and program
The Best of the East
Sci-Tech Kids STEAM Maker Lab
You knew them as a pop up place at various schools around the city but, in 2016, Sci-Tech kids moved into its permanent home on the Upper East Side. Here, 18-month-olds are discoverers, and preschoolers ages 3-5 become explorers who experiment with energy and magnetism, and build basic robots. There are also after-school classes for older children ready to design bridges and solar communities, as well as crack the riddle of renewable energy.
Best Part: Sci-Tech maker kids have won prizes from Disney and been invited to the White House!
Cost: Starting at $160 for 4 sessions
215 East 81 St.
Upper East Side
Before you can make something, you’ve got to Tinker, and Zaniac offers an entire class in tinkering. It’s hands on electrical engineering, starting with an Intro to Circuits for Kindergarten though 6th graders, and an intro to micro-controllers for middle-schoolers. Then, once kids have been properly introduced, they move onto simple machines and LEGOs that can be programmed to do tricks!
Best Part: Kids can work their way up, class by class, to a Certificate of Mastery in Engineering
Cost: Contact Zaniac UES
261 East 78th St.
Upper East Side
photo: via Geek Forest Facebook page
In the rush to make sure every NYC child is a STEM expert by their 5th birthday, some MakerSpaces have forgotten that it’s possible to make without technology, too. Not Geek Forest! At this Brooklyn spot, family workshops include fashioning sling-shots, painting, building with jelly beans, and making elephant toothpaste explode! But, fear not, there are also after-school classes that include 3-D modeling, littleBits construction, robotics and a Tynker club!
Best Part: Free family workshops on the weekends!
Cost: Contact program (10% discount available for enrolling in multiple sessions)
329 Grand St.
Koko NYC is Brooklyn’s Open Source Gallery’s creative kids program. Founded by Monika Wuhrer in 2007, Koko NYC is dedicated to supporting children’s natural curiosity and innovative thinking. Kids use found materials (AKA things disposed of, AKA trash) to create everything from vehicles to simple machines, to whatever they can envision. Classes and camps include boat building, an inventor’s lab, and soap box building, the last of which has kids building their own soap box car in a week. Even little ones can get in on the making, with mini Destroy and Construct classes, in which they use found materials and electronics to create whatever they can dream up.
Best part: Those who make a car in the soap box camp have the opportunity to participate in the annual Koko NYC event, the South Slope Derby, which features the creative and crazy vehicles rolling down a gentle hill and being judged on design, construction, and more. Note: this may be one of our favorite NYC kids events!
Cost: Varies by camp or class
306 17th St.
Open Source Gowanus
234 Butler St.
photo: League of Young Inventors Facebook page
League of Young Inventors
They say “Tinkering is our super power,” and the League of Young Inventors is committed to not only fostering kids’ natural creativity and curiosity, they help deliver the knowledge and skills to make creating possible. It’s after school program takes kids in grades 1 through 5 on a tour of humanity’s greatest inventions through storytelling, hands-on exploration, and creating. Summer camps also happen here: kids make musical instruments, spy gadgets, things that fly, and more.
Best part: LYI prides itself on helping kids place inventions in historical context and understand their applications in the real world.
Cost: $480 for 12 weeks
407 7th Ave.
photo: via Beam Center’s Facebook page
Afterschool, Summer Camp, and School Break Camps are all on the schedule. Kids in grades 5 through 8 can come twice a week for an entire semester to work on design, building and making on their own, as well as for a final, collaborative project for presentation to the entire community. School Break Camps are available for Midwinter and Spring Breaks, while Summer Camp runs from early July through early September and offers a different theme each week, from Tools to Wood, Plastic, Hot Stuff, Fashion and more. And if that’s not enough, there’s also the annual Inventgenuity Festival, where over 600 attendees work on close to 400 projects in cutting edge fields such a bobble-head cloning and kinetically-modified crops.
Best Part: School pick up and post-workshop shuttles available.
Cost: Summer & School Break Camps: $625/week (discounts for multiple weeks); Afterschool: $1600/semester (tuition assistance available)
60 Sackett St.
For Flatiron Fun (by way of Brooklyn)
Born in Brooklyn, but now found in the Flatiron District, The Makery offers classes, workshops and clubs for all ages. Anyone from 10 to 100 can sign up to combine circuits and jewelry, while moms and kids join forces for special Do It Yourself projects ranging from flashlight barrettes to your very own bat-signal! You can try a one-off, or sign up for an eight-week middle-school/high-school Inventor’s Club. Round up 8 to 10 friends, and you can customize your experience. Develop tech toys, digital crafts, or focus on electronics, all culminating with an in-house, interactive exhibit. Inventor’s Clubs are open to all kids, but there is also a designated Girls Make STEAM Program for ages 10-13 in the summertime.
Take note!: If you’ve got kids 11 or older and want a special out of this world experience, check out The Makery’s sci-fi mystery puzzle room, Spacetime Cruise!
Best Part: You put the group together, you get to decide what you make!
Cost: Email for details (no phone number available)
39 W. 19th St., Suite 614
photo: New York Hall of Science Facebook page
Maker Kings of Queens
Maker Space at NY Hall of Science
The family that tinkers together, stays together (if only because they’re now soldered). NYSci’s weekend workshops are drop-in, free, and messy. Each individual event has its own theme, ranging from digital paper cutting, to woodworking to plaster-casting. Loved your introduction? You can download free project guides to continue working at home.
Cost: Free with museum admission
Best Part: Being inside of a museum gives kids plenty of inspiration to jump-start their own making.
47-01 111th St.
photo: via Staten Island Maker Space Facebook page
No Maker Is an Island
Staten Island MakerSpace
A mostly adult facility, Staten Island MakerSpace does host an annual summer program for students in grades 6-12 that includes lots of real-word application of engineering, design, electronics and building. Past projects included an auto watering garden system, a wind generator, and a T-shirt you silk-screen yourself. All material is provided, and campers can choose from a morning session, an afternoon session, and all day camp.
Best Part: Staten Island MakerSpace will help you put together a portfolio for application to tech high-schools and colleges.
Cost: $275/half-day week, $500 full-day week, members and siblings receive a discount
450 Front St.
— Alina Adams