Meet the makers making a difference – from ‘tinkering sessions’ in primary schools to teenage blacksmiths to volunteers 3D-printing prosthetic hands to change the lives of kids around the world.
In libraries, schools, garages and workshops – or maker spaces – across Australia, hackers, artisans, inventors, and computer programmers of all ages are tinkering. Together, they make up the ‘Maker Movement.’
In large part, the DIY handmade revolution is about pushing back against consumerism in favor of creation.
“I think when we become disconnected from making things, we lose a sense of what is valuable. If something breaks, we just throw it away,” says blacksmith Karim Haddad who teaches people of all ages his age-old craft.
But it’s more than that.
“The maker movement is empowering people to influence their environment and change things around them so they can help each other.”
Karim taught his 14-year-old daughter, Leila, how to make a knife when she was just six years old. She’s been hooked ever since and now teaches others.You can watch a longer version of this video at the top of your screen.
Most kids aspire for their creations to end up on the family fridge. When Leila was nine, she donated a knife she made to a charity auction where a well-known collector paid $4,000 for it, making it the highest-value knife sold in the country that year.
But for Leila, it’s not about the money.
“It’s really important for young people to realise they can actually make stuff because it gives you a certain kind of joy that you don’t really get from much else.”
"It gives you a certain kind of joy that you don’t really get from much else.”
Zeina Chalich is a Digital Educator at St Finbahs, a school in Melbourne where students are encouraged to get creative with technology. While many of her students are happy creating alarm clocks, some come to class with a problem and leave class with a self-made solution.
“It's been so powerful to watch students have ‘A-ha! moments’. They're like, “Wow look what I can do!” It nurtures their creative confidence; it gives them that ability to take risks.”
Lending a hand to 3D-print hands for kinds in need
Christopher Ly is one of thousands of volunteers who make up e-NABLE, a world-wide organisation that enables anyone with access to a 3D-printer to print prosthetic hands for kids without fingers.
The design of the hand is based on a prosthetic made from whale bone by a South Australian dentist in the 1800s.
“That guy has no idea of the impact he's had. But it's been huge,” says Christopher.
As the price of 3D-printers comes down, access goes up. Pundits say it won’t be long before every library and every school has a 3D-printing station.
"Coders are increasingly uploading their designs to the web for anyone to manipulate and improve."
What’s more, coders are increasingly uploading their designs to the web for anyone to manipulate and improve.
“The cost of a prosthetic limb would've been way too prohibitive for us,” says Natalie whose daughter was born with three fingers on her right hand.
“e-NABLE giving away the prosthetic limbs… is amazing.”
Christopher says, “The kids get a really positive outcome with using the hands rather than hiding their disability they can say, ‘Hey, look at me, I've got a cool robotic hand!’ and once they get that self-confidence they can improve and build upon that.”