learn­ing to ask ques­tions

Linux Format - - In-depth - Caro­line Keep is the di­rec­tor of Spark Pen­keth Mak­erspace in War­ring­ton, and co-founder of @lpool­make­fest.

Last month my school, Pen­keth High School in War­ring­ton opened the first state school mak­erspace in the UK, @SparkPen­keth, and be­gan em­bed­ding mak­ing within the na­tional cur­ricu­lum.

We knew we’d done some­thing big by open­ing the space and we knew it was im­por­tant. It’s a place for kids to be able to ask ques­tions and not just learn an­swers. There’s noth­ing like it in any other school in Bri­tain at the mo­ment and we want to change that. So we’ve launched the So­ci­ety of School Mak­erspaces and are run­ning the first UK Maker Education un­con­fer­ence, Mak­erNoise this 7 July at Edge Hill Univer­sity, to give teach­ers a plat­form for change.

Kids are so cre­ative and buzzing with amaz­ing ideas, but our education sys­tem quickly knocks that out of them in favour of test­ing, which is why mak­erspaces are so im­por­tant. When Pete Lo­mas, co-cre­ator of Rasp­ber­ryPi, opened our space he pointed out that kids use tech, like their phones, all the time but that it’s “sealed”: they can’t eas­ily break in to ask, “What hap­pens if…?” Hence the birth of Rasp­berry Pi. That same ques­tion­ing ethos lies at the heart of what we do at Spark.

So far Spark has in­tro­duced Phys­i­cal Com­put­ing for All to give all 1,000 kids in the school the op­por­tu­nity to tin­ker, mod­ify and hack, and have twinned with Fayet­teville Mak­erspace, North Carolina, US, to launch RoboDojo where kids in dif­fer­ent mak­erspaces can build ro­bots and link them up via IoT us­ing Rpi. Ex­cit­ing times lie ahead!

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