As part of National Science Week (10 – 17 August), Superstar of STEM Dr Kirsten Ellis hosted a series of inclusive Maker Space workshops, giving over 100 people living with a disability the opportunity across two days to be creative in a safe space.
Across Monash University’s Clayton and Peninsula campuses, participants had the opportunity to engage with a variety of science and technology activities designed to be accessible and engaging.
The workshops were delivered for MiLife Victoria, Central Bayside Community Health Services and Wallara Australia – organisations which offer a range of support services to those living with a disability.
Participants with a range of diverse abilities had the chance to meaningfully interact with a selection of maker activities, including:
- Electronic Textile Threading: A variation on electronic textiles which consisted of threading the negative and positive wires of a light circuit through holes rather than sewing. A peg was used to create a switch to turn the light on and off. People then had the opportunity to decorate their light circuit with felt colours, glitter and beads.
- Equi-Tape Blocks: Making circuits from blocks, using conductive tape and electronic components including LEDs and vibration motors. This activity is the easiest way to make electronic circuits for people with limited fine motor skills and adaptable to their own experience level.
- Modelling a circuit with polymorph: In this activity, a special type of plastic becomes mouldable when it is warm and solid when it cools down. Participants had the opportunity to make different shapes when the plastic was warm, from flowers to bugs and butterflies with lights incorporated into them.
- Crash Bang Spheros: Participants had the chance to drive a robot ball around a circuit area with ramps to drive over and obstacles to avoid.
A member of Central Bayside Community Health Services commented that the staff who returned from the workshop had a fantastic day and were “so excited to show off their creations.”
Thank you to the Department of Industry Innovation and Science who awarded Dr Kirsten Ellis a National Science Week grant, and to the wonderful Monash volunteers whose assistance made the events possible.