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Dublin Maker 2022

01 September 2022

On 23 July, QCAP travelled with our community partners from the Market in South Belfast to Dublin, for #DublinMaker2022. The event was a fantastic public showcase of different makerspaces and a chance to meet people passionate about making STEAM activities accessible for all communities, groups, and abilities. The visit was an opportunity to develop our partnership further and build capacity for the Communities and the Knowledge Economy work strand. Ciarán Hargey from the Market Development Association reports on his experience of the event and its value to their local development work:

Myself, Gareth & Fionntán arrived at the event with the aim of finding out the number of maker labs that are operating in Ireland, the type of programs they are running, and how much enthusiasm there is on the Island for these types of science and tech spaces. Merrion Square is about the same size as Botanic Gardens and two minutes away from the popular walkways along the Grand Canal. It was a perfect July morning and when we arrived most of the stalls were still getting their equipment together. After some conversations with a few early birds, who were well prepared, we already got a sense of the event’s popularity, as people started streaming in from 11am.

The section of the park hosted 100 tents, with 80 different maker spaces, crafts’ people, science educators and small to large businesses. Everyone had an interactive element and the stall holders where brilliant with engaging the public.  You could take part in programming a robot to solve a Rubik’s cube, try your hand at 3D printing and CAD, build your own radio, learn lock picking, build with loads, and loads of Lego, use microscopes, run physics experiments, and so on, and so forth….

We got speaking to every stall holder on the site and throughout the day built up a really good idea of how far the scene has developed, what people have learnt this past decade, and where they see it going in the next 5 to 10 years. Their enthusiasm for science and education was really strong and given the massive numbers of kids attending with families, it’s clear that there is an enormous appetite for STEAM learning among young people. We got speaking with a few families who had involved their children in after school education camps and everyone gave extremely positive feedback on its value, how much their kids enjoyed it, but also how few places and opportunities existed to facilitate these programs.  A good few of the stalls’ main focus was STEAM education, whether running programs or making education tools, and gave us some very useful pointers on how to best deliver STEAM education. After a visit to the food stalls, the day finished with a clash between two craft lab-built robots. Fitted with mitts and helmets the metal giants entertained a huge crowd in the day’s finale.

With loads of contacts and ideas gathered during the event we are really confident of building up some relationships and collaborations over the next few years and beyond.  We look forward to 2023 with excitement!