Creators of the digital future in East Sussex
Our children should all be digital creators.
Digital skills should be at the heart of the curriculum of every school in East Sussex, and every child is shown how digital tools and techniques are at the start of physical production.
Our children should understand how to get from idea to product and, along with building their digital knowledge, must be equipped with the skills to use 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC milling machines. By giving them this invaluable experience now, our children – and East Sussex – will be better prepared for the future.
It’s time to reimagine school workshops and incorporate the ethos of maker spaces and fab labs. These community-oriented workshops are equipped with freely-accessible tools, both traditional and digital, and encourage people to get involved, meet and share resources and knowledge to build and make things. There is an ethos of sharing designs, instructions and ideas, and making them available through open-source principles. We need to provide the creative space for our children to experiment, play and learn.
We need to take inspiration from initiatives like Fixperts, a learning program that promotes creative problem solving by showing children how to work in teams to research and develop solutions, through between others, sketch out ideas, model prototypes, and make a final product. Fixperts’ Daniel Charny recently led a workshop at Barclays Eagle Labs in Brighton and demonstrated that self-driven learning based around making not only helps participants discover solutions, but also is so much more fun than learning facts by heart.
Young people should be challenged to use their imagination and skills Fixperts encourages the creation of ingenious solutions to everyday problems and the development of valuable transferable skills. Its range of teaching formats to suits schools and universities, and makes it relevant to any creative design, engineering and STEM/STEAM studies.
Teaching children to go from idea to prototype to product – or service – will equip them to continue creating as adults. Combining creative workspaces with the amazing tradition of making and creativity in East Sussex will reinforce the county’s credentials as a place where creative entrepreneurs, makers and creators can start and grow successful enterprises.
In Eastbourne, TechResort is a great place for digital, tech and creative people and giving the town’s 8 - 18-year-olds the opportunity to code, make and explore. From its new home at Sussex Coast College and with a huge amount of volunteered effort, Tech Resort has already taken over 300 people through its hands-on workshop experiences from scribblers and brushbots to CodeClub and Raspberry Pi computers. Collaboration with East Sussex libraries will also see a programme of coding activities made available. This is a great start but leaves much to be done.
East Sussex needs more – a network of maker spaces that are resilient, cooperative and sustainable. It would provide a base for people to produce products for themselves, to make prototypes or start-up small productions. It would complement on the skills and talents of local companies, minimise costs of energy and transportation of materials, utilise locally sourced and circulated resources and ultimately empower people to develop and champion a more sustainable and satisfying way of working.
Real benefits can be delivered by building on the rich heritage of making in East Sussex and addressing the pressing need to encourage children and students to work collaboratively and develop skills in communication to help others through creative problem-solving.