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MicroHackers - Teaching Tech for Creative Kids
by Startacus Admin
Kids today are more and more capable with technology than even their previous generation counterparts, and that is only expected to continue well into the future! Mike Harrison from ‘MicroHackers’ is part of a rising trend in educational startups, that seeks to foster this growth and bring a technological future for kids.
Hi Mike, so just to get us started, why don’t you tell us about MicroHackers? “MicroHackers is a parent and child STEM education group that encourages learning through making.”
Education through play is becoming a popular medium, especially in regards to technology. Tell us how MicroHackers aims to take part in this revolution? “The fantastic thing about play - there’s no right or wrong way to do it, you simply use what you have to hand and your imagination. This also happens to be the most effective way to innovate. Learning should become a process that enables a child to create something interesting, not a task in and of itself. MicroHackers aims to provide an environment that encourages children to take control of their own learning, ask their own questions, and discover their own answers, in the pursuit of making something cool. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way, it’s an iterative process: Think > Make > Improve.”
This is a relatively new venture, so funding will be interesting, what are your plans? “MicroHackers is personally funded. We’re currently designing products and developing potential revenue streams in order that it can become self supporting as soon as possible.”
It sounds like an amazing idea for education. What inspired you to come up with a creative education startup like this?
“MicroHackers is a solution to two separate problems. The first problem: How do you provide good quality answers to children's questions? Kids don’t need encouragement to ask questions, they’re absolutely full of them. It’s wonderful. The only trouble, questions require answers. But what is a good answer? I struggled with this for some time. Good quality answers are difficult. How do I avoid introducing my own preconceptions or bias? In good faith, what inaccuracies do I inadvertently teach my children? The answer - don’t give your children answers, show them how to learn. The second problem: How do you save the local high street? The high street shops have disappeared across Britain, primarily as a result of alternatives becoming more convenient. The business models of many local shops have been irreparably damaged by technological advancement. If you can immediately purchase an ebook on your phone, what right of existence does your local bookshop have? My local community lament the loss of their toy shop, it held a nostalgic place in many peoples hearts. I spent a long time thinking about how to give a local toy shop a right of existence. Essentially it comes down to creating a compelling offline experience, and pairing that with online technological capability. Picture a big round table in the middle of a toy shop surrounded by children, all actively engaged with the shop’s products, playing, making, learning. Having the opportunity to unleash their imagination with a range of high tech interactive toys such as circuits, mechanisms, 3d printers etc.”
There’s still a lot to finalise at present for the startup, what is the plan? “We’re so flush with ideas that the plan becomes much more about how to focus. How we logically move from one step to the next whilst building a robust, scalable startup.”
Is there any development to be completed for MicroHackers, anything left to do in regards to finalising the idea? “As Willy Wonka said “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.””
Ultimately, what is the long term goal for MicroHackers? “The long term goal is not just optimistic, it’s nigh on absurd. I’m a firm believer in trying to achieve a highly improbable outcome, it makes each decisive step along the way that much easier to make. MicroHackers would like to revolutionise education whilst simultaneously saving our high streets, rebuilding our local communities, and encouraging our children to put the ‘great’ back into British engineering. Crazy enough?”
Well Mike, we look forward to seeing it completed and we wish you the best of luck!
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