“The Maker Challenge has been fantastic. As it runs after school you might expect to find it tiring, but it’s so fun that I always arrived enthusiastic and excited to get going. I love engineering, and the way it makes you look at things in different ways to solve problems. This is just the first step for me.”Maddena, Maker Challenge Participant
At a glance…
- More than 200 children and young people have joined the making programmes since the launch of the Invention Rooms.
- Since the Reach Out Makerspace opened in November 2017, more than 500 young people have taken part in making activities, from one-day taster sessions, to longer-term programmes like the Maker Challenge.
The Foundation’s grant was pivotal in the establishment and development of the Invention Rooms, and helped with renovating the building and developing its core programme for children and young people.
At the heart of the Invention Rooms is the Dangoor Reach Out Makerspace, a bespoke workshop containing a variety of tools, materials and technologies that children and young people can use to turn their creative ideas into reality, with supervision and support from Imperial staff and students. As well as learning technical skills in the workshop, participants also get experience of business planning, making presentations and website design; transferable skills that build confidence and self-esteem.
“When we first developed our vision for our new campus in White City, we wanted to build an open, welcoming place that enriches the local area and invites the community to engage with our work. Central to this vision has been the creation of the Invention Rooms – a space that aims to inspire and enable people of every age and background to be creative, build prototypes and share in the fun of making and discovery. We are deeply grateful to the Mohn Westlake Foundation for their philanthropic support and partnership.”Professor Maggie Dallman, OBE, Vice President (International) and Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships) at Imperial
Maker Challenge programmes are designed for 14-18 year olds who go to school in the local area, and run for 12 weeks, commencing with two full Saturdays of training in ideation (generating, critiquing and developing ideas) and team-building activities. Following this, once a week after school, makers learn how to use the equipment and machines by attending courses such as woodworking, laser cutting, 3D printing, electronics and computer-aided design (CAD).
A number of other making programmes have been launched in the months since the launch of the Invention Rooms. These include the Proto Maker Challenge for children aged 11-14 years, which gives groups of local children the chance to join brainstorming, designing and creating, collaborating and team working sessions; the Schools Challenge Programme, providing children in schools across London with insight into how science and technology is helping to tackle the capital’s environmental challenges; and the Move On Programme, which gives graduates of the Maker Challenge an opportunity to further develop their ideas.
“I am very grateful to have been given the chance to participate in this programme as there are not many opportunities where we get to use such great facilities and learn so many things, especially at Imperial College London. The programme has made me more confident in exploring different ways of creating art with technology and I hope I get to utilise these skills during my gap year.”Lance, Maker Challenge participant
The Foundation’s grant was pivotal in the establishment and early development of the Invention Rooms, and helped with renovating the building and creating a public engagement space. In April 2019, Imperial formally opened an Interaction Zone at the Invention Rooms, a welcoming space where the local community can take part in free hands-on activities, classes or tours. The flexible facilities include a community garden, a brand new café and space for exhibitions, displays and events. The launch of the Interaction Zone will provide a new home to a number of community projects based at the Invention Rooms, including Agents of Change, a women’s leadership programme which aims to help local women to feel confident in taking leadership roles; and What the Tech?! which offers the over-50s help in using their phone, tablet or computer.
The Invention Rooms is also the base for Imperial College Advanced Hackspace, a 2,500 strong network of entrepreneurs and inventors from across Imperial. The Hackspace workshop at the Invention Rooms provides Imperial staff and student innovators with access to specialist prototyping and manufacturing equipment. Our support has enabled the facilities to be fully-equipped with the latest technology, the recruitment of community and technical staff, and the launch of a community enterprise scheme to encourage entrepreneurial activity.
For more information on Imperial College London's Invention Rooms, please visit their website:
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