Technocamps pulls in the crowds with its Beach Lab
Over 600 young people and their families from across West Wales took advantage of the sun last weekend (Saturday 12th May) when they got to grips with ‘out of the box’ technology, including flying blimps with on-board camera, land drawing robots and sea robots at the Technocamps Beach Lab.
The event, which was held at the Aberystwyth bandstand, gave young people the chance to interact with robots of various shapes and sizes, test out the new Raspberry Pi, the computer the size of a credit card, and also play with wearable technology which can be sew on to cloth and worn.
Beach Lab is the first in a series of free public events being run by the Technocamps team based at the Computer Science Department at Aberystwyth University, with the aim of giving young people aged between 11-19 year old a chance to develop their computing skills beyond the usual screen and keyboard.
One of the stands was manned by a young lad, 12 year-old Ferdia McKeogh from Llanon, who has been building a motorized boat ever since he attended his first Technocamps workshop. Ferdia said:
“Over the last few months I’ve been going to the Technocamps workshops and I’ve been really getting into programming with Arduino. When I’m older I plan to definitely work in electronics, either designing robots or working with computers.”
Ferdia’s Dad, said:
“He’s always been the type of kid who wanted to take things apart and know how they worked. I’m not really from a technological background, so I didn’t have anything that I could share with him or teach him. He’s needed an outlet and was absolutely thrilled to find out about Technocamps – an environment where he could meet other people who knew and understood about these things.
“He has now started to make things at home and program them which has been really great for him and he’s loved doing it. Because of Technocamps and events they put on like Beach Lab, he’s talking about wanting to do a university course in robotics and he’s only 12.”
Beach Lab was supported by other academics and students from the University’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) disciplines, including Science Buskers who gave demos and engaged with the public.
Dr Emma Posey, Regional Coordinator for Technocamps Aberystwyth, believes this type of engagement, where young people are given the creative licence to tinker and play with technology, is what makes Technocamps such a success. She said:
“We couldn’t have asked for a better day for Beach Lab, the sun was shining and people of all ages, young and old, had a really great time. The response has been so good and we’re looking at running similar events again in the near future. There’s a real appetite - young people want to get creative with technology and become creators rather than just consumers of technology. It definitely feels as if D.I.Y technology is here to stay.”
Technocamps is a £6 million project led by Swansea University in partnership with the Universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor and Glamorgan that provides daily and weekly sessions to young people aged 11-19 on a range of exciting computing-based topics such as programming, robotics, cryptography, animation and much more.
Backed by £3.9 million from the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government, the project delivers a series of outreach programmes to schools, colleges and other educational providers within the convergence area of Wales, inspiring young people to consider the computing-based topics underpinning the STEM subjects. Technocamps has the long term goal of encouraging them to pursue careers in an area that will drive economic growth.
For further information, please contact Arthur Dafis at Aberystwyth University Communications and Public Affairs Office, Tel: 01970 621763, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aberystwyth University was established in 1872 and is a leading teaching and research university and was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2009. The 2011 National Student Survey placed Aberystwyth in joint 4th for student satisfaction in the UK amongst public residential universities and first in Wales. Aberystwyth University is a registered charity. No 1145141. Visit www.aber.ac.uk.