Cork Makerdojo Encourages Teens to Tinker With Tech – Tyndall National Institute
launches club inviting young students and general public to get hands-on experience with science and engineering projects
CORK, IRELAND, October 6th, 2015 – Tyndall National Institute in Cork launched today MakerDojo, a club encouraging secondary school-age students and the general public to explore science and technology in hands-on “hacker” style workshops. The project, funded by Science Foundation Ireland, will be based around twice-monthly workshops where participants can experiment with different types of technology. MakerDojo will launch in Tyndall on Oct 6 during Startup Week, and is inspired by the growing Maker movement, a worldwide community of hobbyists, students and enthusiasts who take a creative, DIY approach to technology, science and engineering.
MakerDojo will bring the research and materials expertise of Tyndall National Institute together with the Maker culture of its partners in the project, Biomaker Forma and DesignerDojo. While the launch event is aimed at students aged 15-18, the project organisers emphasise that all are welcome to take part in MakerDojo events. MakerDojo aims to give people practical experience of STEM areas and the opportunity to become confident inventors, experimenters and creators.
Simon Elliott, principal investigator on the Tyndall MakerDojo team, said, “We want to give people hands-on experience with science and engineering, particularly hardware and devices, and get an insight into technology through experience. This is about tinkering and making things – it’s far more engaged than sitting passively and listening. People will get to come in and meet scientists face-to-face. We hope that young students and others will start to learn more broadly about technology. They could have the bright ideas of the future, and we want to help foster their invention and entrepreneurship.”
Niamh Lyons, Interim Director, Communications, Education and Public Engagement of Science Foundation Ireland the funders of the MakerDojo project, said “Science and innovation will secure the jobs of the future in Ireland and the only way that we can make sure that we have the talent to support this is by encouraging and engaging young people through hands on learning that enables them to see the potential of science and technology in their lives.
MakerDojo was assessed with all our other potential investments under our Science Foundation Ireland ‘Discover Call’ by international experts and was selected based on its potential to promote very practical awareness of the relevance of technology among an audience not normally engaged in science, engineering technology and maths. We are hopeful that much will be gained from participants through this very different learning experience.’
MakerDojo will run one workshop for teenagers and one for the general public every month. The workshops taking place in Tyndall National Institute are based around primary research areas within the institute, including electronics, photonics, sensors and nanotechnology. Participants will use technologies such as Arduino microcontrollers and littleBits electronics kits for projects as varied as building homemade burglar alarms, transmitting songs through fibre-optic cables, and experimenting with a miniature water-powered car. The project partners, Biomaker Forma and DesignerDojo, will be running MakerDojo workshops on biology and 3D modelling and printing.
Karen McCarthy, Public Engagement & Outreach Officer at Tyndall, said, “This isn’t going to be anything like a formal classroom situation. Making is very intuitive, and comes naturally. When people are left to their own devices, they can have great experiences with technology – whether they’re already into it, or they’ve previously had negative experiences with exam-based learning and want to try something different. We hope a community of people will feel that the Makerspace here belongs to them – not to the institution – and that you can learn to build something in your own home, or in your own community.”
The project organisers also hope to inspire other MakerDojo clubs and events beyond Cork.
“MakerDojo is a very flexible model, that can be rolled out by any group or institution,” said Elliott. “We’re documenting everything we do, so that others might replicate it for themselves – CoderDojo started in Cork, and they went worldwide, so we see no reason to restrict our ambition.”
Local students will get an opportunity to try out different technology kits and hardware at the MakerDojo launch, as part of an afternoon of music, food and short “elevator speeches” about the different technologies that can be explored through MakerDojo. Anyone who wishes to find out more about MakerDojo can sign up for updates on www.makerdojo.ie.