Building a generation of great hardware makers

The problems in Africa are complex – we can’t definitely solve all of them but we can solve some and make a very big difference in the welfare of our lives, try to cope with unemployment or increase someone’s earning. 
A mentor demonstrating to pupils how it is done. (Patrick Buchana)
A mentor demonstrating to pupils how it is done. (Patrick Buchana)

The problems in Africa are complex – we can’t definitely solve all of them but we can solve some and make a very big difference in the welfare of our lives, try to cope with unemployment or increase someone’s earning. 

And that is why Afrimakers, a team that develops hardware and finds software solutions, is leading the way by training primary and secondary school children in that area.

“I am a founder of a maker community at my university UR-COSTECH (former KIST) called YoungMakers4Rwanda and we have been making interesting things despite limited resources. I saw Afrimakers programme as a big opportunity for our maker community and Rwanda in general. I asked them if it is possible to add Rwanda to that list and we were added,” says one of the mentors to the toddlers’ hardware class, Prince Gashongore.

He believes that making is all about expressing oneself through crafts or tools they make.

“We are all following a path of learning, creation, and sharing. If we can pass this on to the future generation then we have a great future ahead. Together we’re a movement and a movement that is here to stay. The movement has arisen to give voice and encouragement to all to become makers,” Gashongore concluded. 

This community was founded by HackKIDemia as an initiative which not only wants to inspire the young African maker scene but also provide the necessary infrastructure for this.

The main idea behind the project is to establish hubs in seven different African countries (Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt). These hubs will receive maker boxes which contain a broad range of materials and tools like a Rasberry Pi computer, Aeduino Board, two makey, a camera module and many other things necessary to make an operational hardware project.

Fred Kalisa, 13, is one of the students that has gotten a chance to get his hands on the hardware and learn something and describes what he learnt as fantastic knowledge that school doesn’t teach. 

“In school, the only success I get to encounter is passing my exams, which isn’t new because I will always pass my papers if I revise well,” he said while comparing it to his hardware class. “With his hardware class, when I create something myself, I feel it’s a big achievement. Even  weeks after, I can show off what I made and still be very proud of it. I am loving hardware.”

In addition to that, Afrimakers through their local teams organize hands-on workshops in private as well as public schools. All these arrangements should contribute to change through the social entrepreneurship, digital fabrication, regional collaboration and solve local challenges.

Next to this, the project has a great amount of supporters. One example is the former astronaut and actual president and founder of Denbar Robotics, Dan Barry.

***

FIVE REASONS WHY YOUR CHILD SHOULD LEARN TO CODE

1. Solve problems 

Not only does it enable children to learn ways to tackle complex problems, use their creativity to create real applications or automate tasks by programming computers: Many of the principles of programming can be useful for solving all kinds of problems in real life.

2. First step to programming

Games and visual programming languages help children understand the logic behind programme codes and its concepts possibly even before they learn to read. The techniques and the languages used are especially aimed at children and they are a good first step which makes it easier for them to learn traditional programming languages later on.

3. Diversity 

Learning different contents like the ones imparted in programming courses broadens their skills, helps them think and better face other problems they have to solve.

4. Digital literacy

The relevance technology has nowadays makes being able to interact with it in a natural way an important and very valuable skill to learn from these educational contents. Children who learn to code not only interact with technology: They create it and they express themselves in the way they are applying their knowledge about it.

5. Job opportunities

At Code.org itself, they mention another fact that makes learning to code interesting: the demand for programmers will grow dramatically in the years to come. In the United States alone, estimates show that by the year 2020 there will be 1 million more jobs than graduates in engineering and computing coming out of university, based on the current study plans. 

“Computing is the best paid university degree, and jobs in programming are growing twice as fast as the national average,” a recent study indicates.

Have Your SayLeave a comment