Tyndall National Institute opens first MakerDojo

MakerDojo launch
Students from Midelton Collge, Cork at the launch of MakerDojo in the Tyndall National Institute, Cork

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7 October 2015 | 0

The Tyndall National Institute in Cork is looking to take the successful model of CoderDojo and apply it to the fields of electronics and engineering.

MakerDojo, a club encouraging secondary school students and the general public to explore science and technology in hacker-style workshops. The project, funded by Science Foundation Ireland, will be based around workshops where participants can experiment with different types of technology.

The club 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.

Simon Elliott, principal investigator, Tyndall MakerDojo, 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.”

MakerDojo will run one workshop for teenagers and one for the general public every month. The workshops will be based on primary research areas within the institute, including electronics, photonics, sensors and nanotechnology. Participants will use technologies such as Arduino microcontrollers and 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 and 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.”

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