Program Description

The Maker Education Initiative’s Young Makers program brings together a community of young people, ages 8-18, of varying backgrounds, interests, and skill levels, with mentors and a space to make. In small clubs, participants work together throughout the season to design and make a youth-chosen, open-ended project, culminating in an opportunity to share and exhibit at a showcase event. Young Makers was started in 2010, as a small collaboration between Make, Pixar, and Exploratorium in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The mission of the program is to develop youth into confident and capable individuals through the process of making. Young Makers communities embrace an open culture that encourages cross-disciplinary efforts, peer-to-peer teaching and learning, and the importance of both hard and soft skills. Because the focus is on the process of making, sharing, and exhibiting – not competition, there are no winners or losers, just fantastic makers and learners who innovate and collaborate to create something great.

Program Components

A 12-to-16-week Young Makers program consists of:

  • Weekly or bi-weekly club work sessions with mentor-supported youth, organized by club managers at local garages, community spaces, or makerspaces
  • Monthly regional meetings, with multiple clubs in the region, at any youth-based community organization. Monthly meetings consist of a mix of sharing sessions, project or skill workshops, and guest makers
  • Project work, aimed towards exhibiting at a showcase event like Maker Faire
  • Professional development and training sessions, led by Maker Ed staff, for mentors, club managers, regional coordinators, and parents/guardians
  • Project or skill workshops at monthly meetings, as well as additional project/activity ideas
  • Additional events at local partner institutions

Program Components


A club consists of excited youth participants; an interest in making projects; supportive mentors, parents, and club manager(s); an invested community; and space. Clubs can be one family or groups of families; in-school classes or after-school programs, associated with another youth-serving organization; and combinations of the above.

Clubs should have one or more club manager(s), who may lend out his/her garage or workshop space, or may seek out local classroom space for work sessions. Clubs should have mentors (whether adults or older teens) who can help support project development, supply management, skill-building, and active engagement of parents to help with projects, transportation, funding, etc. All participants should be working together on a project for exhibition at a showcase event in a period of 12-16 weeks.

Monthly regional meetings

Monthly meetings are an opportunity for multiple clubs in a similar geographical region to meet. Regions can consist of just one club. Monthly meetings are typically held at a local youth-serving organization’s space, whether a museum, community center, or school. These 3-4 hour events consist of a mix of project sharing sessions, workshops, and/or guest makers.

Projects and showcase events

The goal of the Young Makers program cycle is to create a youth-chosen, open-ended project, to be shared and exhibited at a showcase event. The focus is on the process of making, documenting, learning, and sharing, not competition or perfect completion of a project. Past projects have included everything from a pedal-powered trolley, furniture that doubles as a hamster habitat, a fire-breathing dragon, a seesaw water pump, an animatronic galloping horse, and a mobile spy camera.

Showcase events, during which participants can exhibit their projects and processes, can be small community or school faires, Maker Faires, or any event.

Professional development and training sessions

Maker Ed leads and implements a number of training sessions, typically held via online Hangouts, for mentors, parents, guardians, club managers, and regional coordinators. These one hour-long sessions provide guidance, tips, and programming suggestions, as well as welcome further discussion and questions. These sessions will take place throughout the season, with the first few starting before the season launches. All Hangouts will be recorded and archived on Maker Ed’s YouTube channel.

General Inquiries

For general questions about the program, please send an email to contact@youngmakers.org.