Digital Jersey, along with two Primary School teachers and Ronnie Isherwood, one of Jersey’s International IT Professionals and committee member of Chartered Institute for IT, visited the St Malo Maker Faire to gain a real insight into what is being done with today’s modern technology.
Organised by Jean-Baptiste Le Clec'h, the event was the first Maker Faire to be held in France. The event was well attended over the two days with over 1,000 students and their teachers visiting the faire on the “Education Day” and just short of 1,500 general attendees visiting on the second day, open to the general public. There was a high quality of enthusiastic makers showing off their creations and enthusing students with robotics, 3D printing, Lego mindstorms, bionic hands and much more.
One exhibition, P2P Food Lab, showed how to make a small greenhouse grow vegetables and connect to the Web. This project, among many at the event, highlighted how modern technology can advance students learning. The project combines woodwork, electronics and programming and allows students to get involved in every aspect of the life cycle of food. Sensors are used within the greenhouse to take photographs of food growth and measure variables such as local weather conditions, soil moisture, humidity and sunlight. Measurements are made using a microcontroller, Arduino, which controls a Raspberry Pi. From this advanced equipment, it allows data to be transferred to the Web for extraction and allows students to share their experiences online.
Another popular exhibition, was Robot construction, which saw many students build their own robot. Robot education has become a great way to integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics to awaken and develop the capacity of future generations. Ronnie adds “I was particularly impressed by a group of 16 year olds who had made a robot hand which could be remote operated wirelessly with a glove.” Nao 1337, a friendly humanoid robot, was also present at the faire, which proved very entertaining for students. The Nao is controlled using sensors that detect brainwaves and at the event, student’s concentration levels were used to trigger animations on the robot.
Along with Digital Jersey, other members of Jersey’s community visited the faire, including Mark Loane, CEO of C5 Alliance and board member of Digital Jersey, who commented “The event was a great day out and thoroughly enjoyed by all. It certainly probed thoughts into whether Jersey could host a similar event in the future, as it highlighted that Jersey is not far behind, with the new vision for IT recently being launched.”
The founder of Maker Faire and CEO of Maker Media, Dale Dougherty, was also present at the event and commented “The desire to create things exists in all cultures and all countries. I would go even further, I think this is not a trend, but a kind of tradition. So I think we will see more of Maker Faire organised around the globe.”
Following the success, the event will take place again next year and hopes to attract students from Jersey. Perhaps with the new vision for IT in education, there may be Jersey students presenting their own projects at the faire!