It’s fair to say that schools are struggling to equip children with relevant technical skills. As programming is added to the school curriculum, 65 years after its invention, tech makes another leap which demands more training. 3D printing, for example, has very quickly become the first port of call when prototyping ideas. In the near future all production will likely be done this way. Pi-top has even gone one step further and skipped the production phase completely, letting anyone 3D print the laptop in their own home.
For many years children of the USA have enjoyed tech summer camps. Here kids can learn anything from how to code, to 3D printing, 3D design, music production and electronic engineering. The UK has had little initiative, however tech camps are now popping up and bringing vital tech skills to our children.
Jill Hodges, founder of Fire Tech Camp, told us how appalled she was to discover how much more children knew about a technical subject than their teachers. American born, she moved to London and brought with her the concept of tech camps so popular in The States.
Fire Tech Camp now runs right across the UK in nine locations, the latest making use of Fab Lab’s space in central London. The courses are designed to get kids up to speed and then guide them on their own projects. We met one student who had 3D modelled a door lock to be 3D printed. Another was 3D printing an extension to his gaming joystick which enabled it to fit smaller hands. One had 3D printed tracks for his modified toy train. I was also shown innovative textiles students had produced using laser cutters and soft electronics.
Our tour of their space in Bank showed a bustling work area with kids of all ages working away on their projects. Fab Lab gives students access to some quality 3D printers, laser cutters, computerised sewing machines. Things youngsters simply wouldn’t have access to ordinarily, and the emphasis was on having fun. A programming class teach students how to program the game they already play – Minecraft, for example.
If I had children they would be here. They’re a great way to give kids a head start and get their hands dirty making things. Head over to their website to find the closest courses to you.