A Brief History of Parts and Crafts
Originally founded as a summer camp focused on making, building, taking things apart, programming, art, science, and boffer-swording, we started a homeschool resource center in 2012 that is Not a School, despite some kids coming all 5 days. Until this March, we ran M-F, serving about 50 kids in various capacities as a school-replacement, a place for socialization to supplement their other homeschooling activities, one-on-one tutoring, small group classes, or just a place to play with all of the wacky stuff in our building. Kids help determine the classes and schedule with huge brainstorms 4x/year. Since going online, we have tried to maintain the "flavor" of Parts & Crafts, having a daily morning meeting where we give our pitches for our projects & classes, offering lots of interesting stuff with interesting people, that the kids then opt into. We publish our weekly schedule on Sunday & kids can also decide on the fly what they want to do.
We primarily work with curious and quirky kids aged 7-13, who are super interested in things that are off the beaten path. Now that we're online, we can expand those ages for online learning, as long as the kids are able to do the activity. Some of our projects & classes require kids to be able to read and write, like for Scratch, Java Processing, Mock Trial, etc., but many others don't (drawing, paper weaving, rope-making, plastic jug pigs) and some require parent involvement at some point, especially cooking classes (even if it's just acquiring the ingredients). We often get kids on the Autism spectrum, although we are not a therapeutic program, and because of our main rule of "Be Excellent to Each Other" those kids can thrive socially in a way they often can't in mainstream schools.
An example quarterly schedule from 2015
Parts and Crafts is a non-profit corporation and shall be operated exclusively for educational and charitable purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the International Revenue Code of 1986 or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code. The purpose of the corporation is to engage in the following activities:
- To create a space for building, tinkering, and making things
- To create an alternative learning space for hands-on education and self-directed learning
- To ensure that families who want to participate in our programs are able to regardless of income
- To encourage basic tool use and technical competency across a wide range of fields
- To foster a diverse and inclusive community around all these things
Parts and Crafts is a makerspace and community workshop in Somerville, MA. We encourage kids to think and make and learn and do through the exploration of the arts, science, computer programming, and engineering – a cluster of disciplines we refer to as “the creative application of technical skills.” In all of our programs we aim to create a supportive environment for self-directed learning where young people can learn hands-on skills, gain competency in basic tool use, and work on creative projects of their own design.