create Finalist / 2019

STEAM Lab Makerspace: Pio Pico Public Library at Koreatown/Los Angeles

STEAM Lab Makerspace: Pio Pico Public Library at Koreatown/Los Angeles

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Two Bit Circus Foundation

Imagine that in addition to information, your local library also offered access to advanced technologies such as 3D printing, laser cutting, and circuit board printing, along with the know-how the community needed to put the power of innovation into everyone’s hands. 2BCF’s LA Makerspace division, in partnership with the Los Angeles Public Library system, is bringing exactly that to the Library’s Koreatown Branch in the form of LA’s first Family Makerspace. Free to the public, families, and individuals of all economic situations and cultural backgrounds will be able to develop new interests and new skills for the much-needed tech workforce, and to create new products and launch small businesses, always with a commitment to environmental sustainability. And finally, it will be a flagship and training space for librarians, educators, and other community leaders to spark their own Makerspaces and Maker programs.


What does your organization do?

Using manufacturer clean discards, 2BCF provides educators PreK-College affordable materials, sample curricula and training to support STEAM (STEM+art) MAKER-influenced classroom education.

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

2BCF’s story is the story of “from humble beginnings…” Its predecessor, T4T.org, was founded in 2004 by manufacturers who recognized that leftover materials from their manufacturing company offered creative learning experiences at their son’s preschool. Through a contract with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), T4T.org provided classroom arts programming, using materials from a variety of manufacturing operations. Over the years, the T4T warehouse evolved from a simple “market” into a hub of teacher/student/parent creative interaction as T4T continued to develop educational programs with the help of prestigious partners such as NASA to address emerging classroom needs in science and technology. In 2015, T4T.org’s Resource Cart was transformed into what is today 2BCF’s signature program, the STEAM Lab Makerspace. A second transformative change occurred when Brent Bushnell, Co-Founder and CEO of Two Bit Circus, invited T4T to participate in the first STEAM Carnivals in San Pedro and San Francisco. Following the STEAM Carnival, Mr. Bushnell joined the T4T.org Board. In 2017, Two Bit Circus formed the Two Bit Circus Foundation which merged with T4T.org under T4T’s EIN, propelling the new organization into an aggressive new growth phase. Today, 2BCF’s STEAM Lab Makerspace can be found in schools throughout So. CA, Fresno, and Tennessee with an eye to the rest of the country. STEAM Carnivals are thriving locally with three years in Compton and two years in Hawthorne. Dallas/Fort Worth is planning year four and our first International SC was held in Perth, Australia in 2018.

2BCF has completed mergers with two community-based organizations that will remain as Divisions within 2BCF. Imagination Foundation (IF), which grew out of “Caine’s Arcade,” finds, fosters and funds creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world and LA Makerspace (LAM) with a mission to ensure equitable access to the technical knowledge, digital literacy, and problem-solving skills. 2BCF has now embarked on its newest mission to bring the benefits of its STEAM Lab Makerspace into the community-at-large through the public library system.

Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA

How will your project make LA the best place to create?

According to US data, over 50% of today’s jobs require some degree of technology skills, which experts say will increase to 77% in the next decade. Yet, LA has the nation’s 5th largest job skills gap, primarily in technology. For adults who need to stay current, and students preparing for the future, innovation is the most important prerequisite. Makerspaces, with their freedom to experiment and share skills, have long been innovation hubs in the tech community. We now have an opportunity to export Makerspaces to the community via the library system.

With no library Makerspaces available in either the City or County public library system, 2BCF proposes to launch the first dedicated Makerspace in a Los Angeles City public library at the Pio Pico Koreatown Library. With support from LA2050, over 6 months, 3,000 sq. ft. of space would be built out, furnished, equipped with 3D printers, and supplied with 2BCF recycled materials. The Workshop schedule would include such topics as: Open Making Hours, Coding in Minecraft, Intro to Coding for Adults, Circuit Bending Music, Little Makers (2-4 year olds), and Citizen Science. Program effectiveness will be measured by pre-then-post surveys conducted at every workshop series.

Pio Pico Library is located in Koreatown, fifteen minutes from downtown Los Angeles and near the Koreatown/Western Station metro stop. Its population is 53.5% Latino, with a median household income 45% lower than the city’s. The library is surrounded by numerous public and private elementary, middle and high schools.

2BCF’s Makerspace division has offered free, family-friendly maker workshops to the public at various Los Angeles Public Library branches since 2014, while training library staff to develop and execute their own maker events.

Pio Pico’s free family Makerspace will support intergenerational and diverse learners, giving multicultural families a welcoming, safe space to explore new technologies and develop their skills and projects. With support of experienced Makers, users will develop important “soft skills” that are key to success in the workplace and entrepreneurship, as well as daily life. Opening access to advanced technologies will encourage users to develop badly-needed STEAM workforce skills and pursue entrepreneurial goals.

The Pio Pico Makerspace will: 1) introduce adults to technology in a self-empowering atmosphere with real-world relevance; 2) provide opportunities for students in underserved schools to enhance their creative and critical thinking skills outside of the classroom; and, 3) in the most ethnically diverse city in the nation, allow residents of varied backgrounds to have multi-cultural conversations, fostering understanding on more contentious city-wide issues. But, most important, the Pio Pico Makerspace is a democratization of knowledge, a reaffirmation of our society’s commitment to universal knowledge through the public library system.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Post-pilot (testing an expansion of concept after initially successful pilot)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

2BCF uses the pre-then-post survey technique for measuring impact, which allows us to judge whether the curriculum is effective, serves the students’ needs, answers their questions, or whether it needs further refinement. Our surveys are designed by science coordinators from the Los Angeles Unified School District. We will design survey questions for the Pio Pico Makerspace program and conduct them at the start and completion of each workshop series. Retention in workshops to series completion, and enrollment in additional workshops, are also valid measures of impact. We will seek a 60% retention rate and aim for enrollment in at least two additional workshops.