Here at oomlout we've long supported the idea that being a maker, in whatever field, is a great thing for adults and children alike. We've previously seen how soldering can be a form of therapy for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, while Chris Leach's TinkerShed project shows how more forward-thinking schools are looking to bring electronics back into the curriculum. Now, charity Nesta - formerly the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts - is chiming in with a report that claims 82 per cent of young people surveyed are interested in 'digital making.' Those children are claimed to be struggling to fill their hunger for the topic, defined by the report as "learning about technology through making it," however: half of those surveyed exercise their nascent making skills "less than once a week or never." A happier note from the same report: 89 per cent of parents surveyed believed making to be a worthwhile activity for children, while 73 per cent actively encourage their children's interest in the topic - suggesting that even while schools struggle to adjust their curriculum to address expected future workplace needs, there's plenty of scope for self-directed learning at home and in the community using kits like our own open-source ARDX Starter Kit for Arduino. The full report, titled Young Digital Makers, can be downloaded from Nesta.
The high levels of interest in digital making amongst young people and parents need to be capitalised on further. Young people need to be supported as digital makers across the UK, not just in London and areas that have high provision. There needs to be greater access to a variety of making opportunities catering for a wider variety of young people and their different interests, ages and genders.