The Library Services’ MakerSpace: Empowering Students Through Hands-on Experience with Technology

Posted on April 01, 2017

The Library Service’s MakerSpace, in collaboration with an organisation known as Spectrum, hosted an innovation and entrepreneurship seminar on the 30th March 2017. The presenter of the seminar was a young entrepreneur, Naledi, who is the founder of Spectrum and several other companies. Naledi has applied herself at several events which focused on fast-paced design and coding methods to solve issues with software, which are known as hakathons. From this she exposed the need for students to start businesses at a younger age to become job creators within the unique African market, and consequently won the City of Ekurhuleni Hackathon 2016.


Naledi presented testimonials of her journey as a young entrepreneur to students in the MakerSpace and the projects she is currently working on to not only relate but also divulge how anyone, regardless of age, can take initiative and make their ideas a reality through technology.


To apply students’ ideas stimulated by the seminar and support them with technology, the Programming Microcontrollers and Prototyping (PMPG) initiative was devised. Although complex at first, this program made use of basic electronic kits to teach students hands-on methods to build products, and teach them the principles of software and circuitry. The electronic kits used are known as Arduino kits, which prototype ideas and create an authentic learning experience connected to the real world. By stimulating creativity and curiosity through engagement with technological equipment, solutions were prototyped for various situations and problems to achieve viable solutions. Initially 20 students had regular contact sessions, and were taught basic programming, as well as prototyping with actual circuitry to test viability of an idea before entering a large scale construct.


The collaboration between Spectrum and the MakerSpace will look to empower future makers to use equipment at hand, irrespective of technological background, to apply their thoughts and extend their capabilities through technology. The MakerSpace will aim to host additional events in the future, using electronic kits such as Arduino to teach valuable skills in the execution of ideas, generating innovative thoughts and taking action on them to lead to success stories such as Naledi’s.

- Author Sean Kruger, MakerSpace Coordinator
Published by Elsabe Olivier

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