If your kids love to build, craft, create, experiment and make all sorts of cool projects, gizmos and gadgets, Austin is a great place to be! Creative energy abounds in this city, and there are plenty of ways our kids can tap into that energy and enthusiasm. Check out one these 10 places for your young makers to enjoy.
For the Tinkerers & Builders:
— Austin Tinkering School
Located in East Austin, this is a place where kids can use real tools and materials to build and learn. Inspired by Gever Tulley and his original Tinkering School in California, adults serve as collaborators rather than teachers for maximum engagement. Projects at the Austin Tinkering School range from sword-making and woodworking to doll-house building and much more. Classes, workshops and camps, and birthday parties are offered. Check out the website for class listings & more info.
Thinkery is Austin’s hands-on children’s museum where science and families play side by side. Kids connect with ideas by doing, making and experiencing. It’s a great place for young innovators and creative problem solvers. Within the Thinkery, you’ll find the Innovators’ Workshop area with a stop-motion animation station, microscopes, a simple machines wall and more for all ages. In the Space 8 area, you’ll find a maker lab designed for children ages 8 and up to build, tinker and make with projects such as soldering, woodworking, sewing and more. Learn more on the Thinkery’s website.
— Tech Shop
Located in Round Rock, Tech Shop is a membership-based, do-it-yourself workshop and fabrication studio. They provide access to tools and equipment, instruction from local professionals and educators and a community of creative and supportive people. They have Youth Program aimed at ages 8-17 where kids are exposed to new technologies ranging from 3D printing to using standard shop tools. Visit Tech Shop’s website for more info.
For the Science Lovers:
— GirlStart STEM Center
Girlstart is a non-profit organization created to empower girls to excel in math, science, and technology. They offer a variety of educational programs through after-school classes, workshop series, summer camps and free community events such as their Starry Nights astronomy program are held the 1st Thursday of every month (except January, June, July and August) with a mini-planitarium star show and hands-on activities. You can learn all about the variety of programs offered on the GirlStart website.
— Hill Country Science Mill
Just an hour outside of Austin, you’ll find this terrific science museum in Johnson City. It has more than 40 interactive, world-class exhibits, a 3D theater, a huge outdoor space, and provides hours of science fun for all ages. Read our review here. Visit their website for information special events and summer camps, too.
— Mad Science of Austin
Mad Science offers programs to help kids learn about science concepts with hands-on experiments and exciting demos at their after-school programs, preschool programs, in-class workshops, summer camps, birthday parties and special events. They have classes and camps all over the Austin area. To view their locations and offerings, you can visit their website.
— Austin Science & Nature Center
Since 1960, ANSC has provided nature exhibits, education programs, and recreation resources for countless visitors, and children of all ages. There’s plenty of hands-on fun from digging in the Dino Pit to checking out all of the natural science specimens and at the Naturalist Workshop and Trade Counter. When you stop by for a visit, you will be able to meet a coyote and red-tailed hawk in the Wildlife Exhibit area.
— Texas Memorial Museum
For the kids who are really into natural science, the Texas Memorial Museum on the UT campus is a great place to explore. You’ll find natural objects such as fossils, bones, rocks and prehistoric archaeological materials. The Hall of Biodiversity is also an interesting area to check out. It features interactive displays about our understanding of biological evolution. This museum offers several special events throughout the year. You can learn more by visiting their website.
— Texas Museum of Science & Technology
Located in Cedar Park, this museum includes a planetarium, a very interesting collection of fossils and artifacts as well as a space for a traveling exhibit (currently a King Tut exhibit.) This relatively new museum is continually growing and expanding it’s offerings. Visit the museum’s website to learn more and to check out the planetarium schedule.
For the Crafty Makers:
— Center for Creative Action
With a huge emphasis on the arts, the Center for Creative Action is an inspiring place for crafters and makers. They offer plenty of dance and music classes throughout the week, but you’ll also find free Community Art Sundays in which you can get hands-on with a big variety of projects for the whole family. Check out their website for a full list of classes, camps and info about their afterschool programs.
— Kids Kraft at UMLAUF Museum & Sculpture Garden
Kids Kraft is a series of Saturday workshops for children in grades K-2 where they can create amazing works of art using natural and recycled materials. Each week focuses on a new technique such as weaving, building mosaics and mobiles, creating installations, printmaking and more. Click here for more info and to register.
–> Where to Get Supplies for Your Makers: Austin Creative Reuse
If you’re looking for supplies to keep your crafters, inventors and builders busy, we highly suggest heading over to the Austin Creative Reuse center for very affordable DIY supplies. Austin Creative Reuse is a nonprofit organization that collects, sells, and distributes donated reusable materials. They give materials a second life, such as arts & crafts supplies, fabric, yarn, vintage paper, office supplies, small toys, beads, paints and much more. You never know what you’ll find there! Learn more & check their hours by visiting their website.
Last but not least, you’ll want to save the date for the annual Austin Maker Faire held at the Palmer Event Center on May 13 & 14! It’s a wonderful place for all of our area makers to come together to celebrate our creations and collaborate on fun projects.