Makers weekend: Young ICT and Maker Faire

YICTE 2016What a weekend. Saturday was Young ICT Explorers; Sunday a visit to the Mini-Maker Faire. There is some awesome stuff going on in Sydney.

Young ICT Explorers (YICTE) was huge. Quite literally hundreds of students from all stages of school coming together at UNSW to show off what they had created. YICTE  keeps getting bigger and the standard of the entries keeps shooting upwards – it really is hard to comprehend that some of the projects are being undertaken by students, and often in their spare time. There are some amazingly talented students out there.

While YICTE gives great hope for where we are with technology in schools it does also highlight some serious issues. The depth of interest and activity in primary school drops off markedly as the students enter high school – there are far, far fewer high school entries. Also all the talented and enthusiastic primary school girls who enter seem to disappear by the time high school is reached. There really needs to be greater focus on getting Year 7 and Year 8 kids, and especially girls, involved so all that early promise is not squandered.

DSC_0810In contrast to YICTE growing like topsy, the Sydney Mini-Maker Faire seemed very mini this year. It felt like there were maybe half as many stalls as last time we visited. The displays were still fascinating and interesting, but I can’t help but worry about what that means for the event itself. Where else can you launch virtual rockets with big red buttons, marvel at the dents in fighting robots, and try out the latest in 3D printing? It all good and I really hope this year’s turn-out was just a blip.

Which leads me to the obvious thought. The two events really ought to be linked. Have the winners from YICTE at the Maker Faire? Have everyone at the Maker Faire? Or even just exchange advertising? Really there ought to be a way to get two fabulous events with a common theme more intertwined – especially during Science Week.

This was a great weekend for makers in Sydney. Our local world is bursting with talented people doing some extraordinary stuff.

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