Making Technology Accessible with the MAKESHOP

Ever see a Doodle-bot in action or witness a cardboard robot spring to attention, thanks to the power of an Arduino? If not, then you need to schedule a visit to the MAKESHOP.

Located smack bang in the middle of Dublin on Lincoln Place, the MAKESHOP is the perfect place to get to grips with your inner inventor – or give your little ones the chance to fall in love with science and technology.

Created by the Science Gallery Dublin to offer a collaborative space to making and tech enthusiasts, MAKESHOP is manned by a host of intrepid – and friendly – tech and making enthusiasts.

With a background in physics, Jessica leads the team alongside Aidan. On hand to devise the venue’s series of innovative workshops, seminars and courses, she reveals the Shop’s original purpose.

Popping into Culture

Jessica explains: “MAKESHOP started as a pop-up that fitted in with the theme of one of Science Gallery Dublin’s exhibitions in 2012, that was about taking over urban spaces and using them for community purposes or for social good at the time of ghost estates and vacant properties in the recession. It was originally a six-month popup but stayed popular.”

She jokes: “It kept popping as one of our team members says! Over time, it became part of the Science Gallery Dublin’s education programme and now our focus is on working with schools, particularly, DEIS Schools and community groups, who might not have access to science technology and learning stuff.”

Making Electronics, Technology and Science Accessible to All

With a vibrant tech culture growing around the country, the MAKESHOP’s team are on a mission to give everyone a chance to see the appeal of science and electronics. An important objective, Jessica explains: “We’re not experts in electronics or making but we all have an interest in it. The main thing we want is for people to come in and enjoy the experience, and if they can learn something then, that’s great.”

“There’s a movement worldwide to get making and physically making things into education. Science and engineering subjects are where women can be under-represented. Typically, we find that male students will put themselves forward initially, but once we go in and do a workshop with groups, female students are equally as interested then as well and from there, start thinking more about science and engineering subjects.”

Aidan adds: “The part I enjoy most is convincing kids who think they’re not interested in science to give it a chance. When we show them things like soldering and melting metal, they get really into it.”

Workshops for Everyone

Along with outreach programmes, the team run regular workshops for all ages – yes, even the curious adults amongst us – from its city-centre base. From an Apps after School workshop for tech-minded teens to an introduction to the use of Raspberry Pi for all ages, you can find a full list of ongoing programmes on the MAKESHOP website. While the team are also interested in hearing from tech experts who would like to share their own specialist knowledge. Jessica adds: “We’re trying to bring in people who have more expert skills who can give specific workshops. For instance, we are working with a local maker, Ed Devane, who makes electronic and analog instruments, and we are working with him on a new workshop.”

Interested in learning more about MAKESHOP and the Science Gallery Dublin? Follow the team on Twitter @WeAreMAKESHOP.