One million electronic kits help to inspire next generation of engineers
21 January 2015
A Nottingham based company specialising in providing products and resources for people to create their own electronics projects has announced its one millionth project kit sale.
Kitronik co-founder, Kevin Spurr teaching soldering skills to a student
The kits have been sold to over 3,000 schools, helping to encourage more young people to take an interest in technology and engineering.
Capturing the interest of more young people in technology and engineering subjects and the careers related to these subjects has been a national priority for a number of years. UK based company Kitronik wanted to address this and over the last few years has successfully helped thousands of young people build their own ‘Electronic Products’.
From music amplifiers, to solar lights and kinetic moving bugs, they have shown that there is a growing interest in not only using and consuming electronics products, but also in creating their own.
Kitronik, a Nottingham based company started in 2005, set out to create interesting and inspiring ‘Electronic Projects’ that could be made by students in UK secondary schools, whilst also making sure the students could learn about how the circuits worked. The projects have proved to be a big hit.
Kitronik has now supplied over 1,000,000 electronic kits to around 3,000 UK and international schools and countless people in the ‘Maker’ community, the growing technology based DIY culture which emphasises learning through doing. People involved in the ‘Maker’ community, or ‘Maker Movement’ typically enjoy engineering orientated activities such as electronics, robotics and 3D printing to create self-made products.
From the outset it was clear that the projects needed to be both interesting and well resourced. Kitronik co-founder Geoff Hampson explains, “We wanted projects that students could engage with, that could be built reliably and that were well resourced. Our aim has always been to show that electronics can be fun and that people shouldn’t be scared of giving electronics a go.”
Another key reason that so many people have been able to have their first hands on experience of electronics is the fact that the projects are so affordable. Speaking to teachers showed that school budgets could are very tight, and Kitronik soon found that it is not uncommon for Design and Technology teachers to state that their budget is only ‘a few pounds per student’. Kitronik has managed to achieve this whilst keeping the design and manufacturing of the electronic kits in the UK.
Kitronik co-founder Kevin Spurr explains how the national interest in creating our own electronic and digital products has changed and grown in the last few years: “Creating and building electronic circuits and products has been taking place in schools for many years, but it has is also grown in popularity with the general public and the ever expanding ‘Maker’ movement," he says.
"Exhibiting at ‘Maker Faires’ has shown us how the appetite for digital making has grown in the last couple of years. Having run a number of workshops over the last few months we love to see the enthusiasm many young people have when they get the chance to make their first electronic circuit.
"There are also some great new campaigns which have helped increase the public awareness of this area. For example the ‘Make Things Do Stuff’ campaign which was launched in May 2013 by George Osborne, is aimed at mobilising the next generation of digital makers. This is supported by the new Design and Technology school curriculum which encourages more teaching of electronics and programmable components.
"We have many new ideas for the future and can’t wait to help even more people discover this fantastic area of learning and creating. There is a shortage of electronics designers, so if we can encourage more people to take up careers in a technology or engineering subject then we will be very proud of what we have achieved.”
Making a difference
Andy Thomson, Director of Design Technology and Engineering at Highgate School in London adds: “My first encounter with Kitronik was at a fair in Birmingham, many years ago. What really stood out then, still applies to this very day. The business is geared around making a difference in the classroom, rather than focused on profits.
"This clear vision is felt at every level, from the staff to the kits and resources. This ethos has helped my students and colleagues feel more engaged and confident with Design Technology and Engineering. I have had the pleasure of working with Kitronik on many different projects; robotics during a summer school, teaching teachers on the ‘Teach First’programme and trailing out new projects for curriculum teaching, to name but a few.
"I always recommend Kitronik to other departments and teachers who I come into contact with. I congratulate them on reaching the 1 million kit sales mile stone and I hope many more will follow.”