Key Takeaways

NISC Programs of Excellence 

  • Year Awarded: 2021 (see all 2021 Programs of Excellence Winners)
  • Programs of Excellence Name: Technology Makers Space
  • Hosting Organization: Woodbury Senior Center, Woodbury, Connecticut
  • Woodbury Population: 9,750
  • Population 65+ : 30.5%
  • Senior Center Members: 900

About Technology Makers Space

Designed to increase confidence in technology by showing how computers can help create beautiful crafts, this program converted an old computer lab to become an inspirational digital maker-space, equipped with all necessary equipment as well as laptops and tablets for digital learning. 

The senior center used a CRICUT machine and a GLOWFORGE digital laser engraver/cutter to teach older adults the fun of being creative and making purposeful, useful, and beautiful items. 

The "carrots" in this project are the beautiful, high quality items people can make for themselves and others. The "stick" is this: in order to create these items (ranging from decals to laser-cut furniture!), the participant must use a computer to create and set the design. 

Participants were thrilled to learn they are indeed creators, and to take home their "techy“ projects. With each subsequent use, participants became more confident in computer skills, ranging from using a mouse cursor and toggling between screens to actual digital design, placement, and creation. 

Key takeaways from Technology Makers Space

  • All  people are creative, but some have not embraced their creative talents. Structuring projects that allow them to modify existing designs or create something completely new was important. The “ah-ha!” moment is fun to watch and helps build confidence in computer learning and other areas.
  • Small  group classes (5 people or less) work best, but each person will need some one-on-one assistance to use the computer program in designing a project. 
  • Safety training was not boring (as anticipated). It helped build excitement.
  • Train people early in the calendar year. Anticipate a sharp increase in participation in the fall when people start thinking about holiday gifting!
  • While this was a significant investment for a small center, the results showed it was worth it. Participants gained computer confidence, become makers, and exhibited pride in their creations. 

About the Woodbury Senior Community Center

The Woodbury Senior Community Center is home to the Town of Woodbury Department of Senior Services. Programs include nutritional support, tech support, virtual programs, social services support, and transportation. As they say on their website, "Woodbury Senior Center respects the diversity of our participants. You will find a warm welcome here, regardless of sex, age, race, ethnicity, national origin, range of abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, financial means, education and political perspective."