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Little Makers at the Hyderabad Maker Faire 2018

This post was contributed by Sahithya Anumolu, Eshwar Bandi, and Abhishek Dey from the Inqui-Lab Foundation.

 

The City of Hyderabad has hosted many technological conferences and events, some of them with complete support from the State Government. These events are allowing the city to embrace the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. One such event held in November of 2018 was the Maker Faire Hyderabad 2018, being held for the first time in Hyderabad, and, supported by the Innovation Cell of the State of Telangana. Maker Faire is a venue for makers to show their crazy inventions, designs and creative and technological skills. This event is open to engineers, craftsmen, artists, doctors, gardeners and scientists and it celebrates hands-on making and creativity.

True to its name, The Maker Faire Hyderabad 2018 showcased an eclectic mix of makers and designers. Some stalls showed futuristic  innovations in the domain of 3D Printing, Virtual Reality and clean energy. Some stalls presented amazing grassroots innovation regarding women’s health, sustenance farming technologies and textiles printing.

However, there was a dedicated section in the Maker Faire for children. Sure you might think that this was a section for kids to attend workshops or play a few games. On the contrary, this was a section dedicated to showcase student inventions, designs and innovations. The Faire provided a Student’s Track, a platform for school students to stand toe to toe with other adults and present their wonderful solutions to an eclectic range of problems.

A 12-year old Maithily presented her prototyped coconut shell based products, like pen stands and water cups and managed to even sell her product to an amused guest.

Keerthi, a 11 year old, re-imagined our roadways and designed one with an array of small slits to drain out and collect rainwater.

Namita, a 14 year old, resourcefully redesigned a sanitary pad incinerator system with clay pots, magnifying glasses and some knowledge on high school chemistry. A idea which can potentially be expanded to all rural schools in India.

Imagine, not 10… not 25… but 50 such school going boys and girls articulating their unique ideas and inventions for a better world. This was the sight at Maker Faire, which provided an equal space earmarked to celebrate the youngest of innovators and makers – our school children.

The diversity among the school students was commendable, some who belonged to rural government boarding schools, while some to private low income and international schools, from across the nation. This journey was supported by organizations like Better By Design, Inqui-Lab Foundation and Atal Tinkering Labs.

All the students at the Faire spoke with confidence about their problem statement, idea, design process, challenges and prototypes. Some eye catching innovations were the problems that resonated with student’s empathy.

Students of Chirec School, supported by Better By Design, engaged in depth with issues faced by visually impaired people.This empathetic understanding helped them design a gaming arcade for the visually impaired, a first of it kind in the world!

What differentiates this design and innovation based Faire from other Science fairs is the strong focus on creativity and making of new and useful products, and not just the scientific concepts. Every adult at the Faire interacted with the students, posed questions, gave feedback on student ideas and were delighted to see the potential of student creativity and innovation. Deep Bajaj, founder of PeeBuddy, expressed his awe and gratitude for the students during his own public showcase in the Maker Faire.

The Faire saw a footfall of 1100 people including a diversity of important delegates from Dale Dougherty to Sonam Wangchuk. Nearly 600 attendees were children from 31 different and diverse schools like the Center run Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya to international schools.

These statistics of both participation and attendees at the Maker Faire Hyderabad 2018, calls for us to reimagine big city-wide events like expos, talks and workshops that are traditionally led or attended by adults alone. The success of the Faire leads us to propose school student participation in more of such ‘high stakes’ events. Be it expos for automobile industry, or for sustainable farming, or for drone technology, children’s participation as equal stakeholders and thought partners gives a glimpse of not only a child’s capabilities, but also, lets children have an immersive experience in current technologies.

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