A few weeks ago, I took a field trip to TechShop in Arlington, VA with several of my Lemelson Center colleagues. We had hosted some of TechShop’s staff at the museum the month before and we were anxious to visit. Described as a “playground for creativity,” TechShop provides access to tools, equipment, and space where members are encouraged to learn, create, prototype, collaborate, and “build your dreams.”
Our visit was fun and inspiring, and I think we all left wanting to learn a new skill, tackle a new project, or work with new tools. But what I realized later is that TechShop is basically the grownup version of the Draper Spark!Lab, our hands-on invention space for kids and families. Like Spark!Lab, TechShop offers opportunities for its members to work through the invention process—from the Think it step, when they identify a challenge to tackle, to the Create it or prototyping step, through the Try it and Tweak it steps, when they test and refine their ideas.
Like Spark!Lab, TechShop is open and flexible.
A wide range of tools and materials is available. Materials are visible and easily accessible, offering inspiration for inventions and creations of all kinds.
Inventions connect to diverse disciplines, from technology and engineering to art and music.
Skilled staff support inventors and facilitate learning and making.
In Spark!Lab, we believe everyone is inventive, and hope that our visitors continue to create and innovate long after they’ve outgrown us. It’s reassuring to know there are places that will welcome them.