Gizmo celebrates Star Wars Day on the campus of North Idaho College

COEUR d'ALENE – The power is with Gizmo-CDA.

The community is invited to a free Star Wars Day event for all ages on Saturday, where attendees can see a working 1.5 meter long AT-AT, build their own lightsabers while supplies last, and even more intergalactic ones can have fun.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Gizmo-CDA at North Idaho College, Hedlund Building, Suite 102.

2024 marks the 10th anniversary of Gizmo-CDA – and last year was a challenging one. After the maker space was forced to temporarily close its doors on the NIC campus last summer due to a certification glitch, Gizmo-CDA laid off half of its full-time staff due to financial constraints.

Although founders Barb and Marty Mueller retired in 2021, they have stepped back in to help the nonprofit navigate choppy waters.

“We are back to full operation,” Barb Mueller said. “We had a lot of personnel changes, but it was really exciting to see new energy and new ideas coming in.”

Over the last six months, Gizmo-CDA has increased the availability of low-cost courses open to the community called “Happy Hour” courses.

“They give people a taste of Gizmo,” Barb Mueller said.

The temporary closure caused employees to look at the existing space differently.

“A maker space is defined by the people who use it,” said Barb Mueller. “We wanted to create a space that was truly child-friendly.”

To that end, the nonprofit is planning a space for youth makers within Gizmo-CDA, called Spark Lab. The space will encourage children to work on projects together and practice teamwork.

As they reflect on a decade of Gizmo CDA and plan for the future, the Muellers have connected with some of the youth, now adults, who have spent time in the maker space. Many now work in technology-related fields and told the Muellers that Gizmo-CDA helped them get to where they are today.

“They learned resilience,” Barb Mueller said. “They learned to think about an idea, try an idea and, if it fails, try again. That ability has served them well.”

Hearing these stories is why the Muellers are still fighting to keep the maker space open.

“We want this to be open to all kids, to be inclusive of all kids,” Barb Mueller said.

Anna Harden

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