INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis-based 1st Maker Space LLC is helping schools push innovative thinking to a new level by creating specific areas where students can gather to create, discover and innovate for 21st century learning.

“A maker space gives kids that early experience with tinkering, with failing forward, with experimenting, “said Kim Brand, co-founder of 1st Maker Space.

The company, now in its fifth year, designs and builds in-school maker spaces and STEM labs. A maker space is a place where people with shared interests can gather, brainstorm, and share ideas, usually with a technology focus.

1st Maker Space executives say these creative areas may include high-tech tools, like 3D printers and laser cutters. Or sometimes, there are no-tech or low-tech tools like art supplies and building blocks.

”Across the state, we're really seeing a demand for maker spaces, everywhere from kindergarten through high school and even in universities,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Mary Rinehart. “Principals and parents are hungry for spaces that can help their students develop into future innovators, and really be the next generation of problem solvers. And maker spaces do that.”

Rinehart says her team will go into a school and work with principals to develop a plan for a maker space, including curriculum development, equipment needs and professional development for teachers.

1st Maker Space says it will also help schools with grant writing to help the school find funding for the project.

The company says it has helped more than 100 schools and community centers across Indiana to create maker spaces and STEM labs.

“A maker space and other forms of creative-inspiring activities that educators deploy are really the way that Indiana moves forward. This is an investment in the future,” said Brand.