Maker movement and I
Story of Opemipo Ogunkola
I first got to know about the Maker movement the end of 2012 and it immediately resonated. It was something I could immediately identify with. I had been a maker (or maybe more accurately an hacker) when I was much younger. My neighbor and I would dismantle our toy cars and use the motors in them to build boats for example. We were tinkering, but it was something I lost as I grew older and became more concerned with passing exams.
The desire to create was latent, waiting to be unearthed again.
The thing that struck me the most this time was the seeming ease with which stuff got made. The Arduino had simplified a lot of things. I would look at tutorial after tutorial and it was easy. I still didn’t know how to get any of the required materials.
I was an outsider, observing, watching in amazement that awesome possibilities opened up by these tools.
The breakthrough came when I discovered an Arduino distributor in Nigeria and I got my first Arduino. I got the chance to tinker. It was marvelous! I had finally moved from talking, seeing stuff to online to actually doing projects. Admittedly, it was mostly following directions but it was a start. All of this was personal, it was just me trying stuff out for myself but I have always been the kind of guy that couldn’t keep the good news to myself. I would share on facebook, spread the good news.
Then I got to know about the Afrimakers project and I was sold! It had to happen! Sign me up!
It promised an opportunity to teach other people, to make them see what was possible with these maker tools and to perhaps come up with prototypes to solve problems.
The first Afrimakers event happened in April, 2014 and it was great! I got to know how to go about teaching other people.
Since then, I have been teaching other people about the Maker movement and how to use the Arduino in particular. It has always been encouraging seeing the look on their faces when they blink the first LED. In my university, we meet weekly and went through the Adafruit Arduino tutorials.
It is something to note that most of the people in our meetings were Electronics and Electrical engineers yet the Arduino provided a platform for them to learn how to actually make stuff as opposed to the practicals being done in school. It illustrated better the concepts of resistance, of analog to digital converters, current, voltage, pulse-width modulation etc. I have since bought several arduino kits for different people.
I would say going forward, there is a lot of potential here. People actually want to build stuff but they don’t know how or they imagine it would be expensive or they need years of expertise but the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi among other electronics boards have broken-down these barriers.
There is a potential to ignite a passion for science and technology very early in kids and some day, Nigerians would make solutions tailored to their particular wants and needs and not have to depend on everything from outside.