Versatile creative skills help bring science to life for kids.
Nanogirl has become a familiar sight to kids who love science, and their parents. No longer just an occasional event in main centres, Nanogirl Labs has expanded to include kits, kitchen science cookbooks and more.
To support its expansion, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Dr Michelle Dickinson turned to AUT’s Bachelor of Creative Technologies students to work with her over the summer.
“In the fast-moving business world, we needed smart young people with a range of experience spanning design and building to business planning and commercialisation. AUT's Bachelor of Creative Technologies students were incredibly impressive. Having skills in so many areas meant we were able to take an idea from concept through to full prototype over 10 weeks. This included a full business plan and competitor research report. I would highly recommend students from this programme for their ability to adapt quickly as well as physically and digitally create new products.
Third year Bachelor of Creative Technologies student Megan Buyn says the opportunity has been exciting and a great opportunity to put her studies into practice.
"The main project I’ve been working on involves designing and prototyping a toy that might become a part of the company's product line. The toy is designed to involve some DIY assembly of tech components into a soft material toy, helping kids learn about electricity and how certain parts work.
“I've been playing around with a bunch of different technology components (using Arduino for prototyping purposes), drawing digital designs with a Wacom tablet, and I am currently working with fabrics to piece this idea together into a more detailed prototype. Because we’d made good progress on the project, Michelle also asked me to design some booklets to present their teaching modules in a more user-friendly way for a pilot session of an educational program they're designing.
“I also joined them for that weekend of the pilot testing along with another BCT student. Being able to put my knowledge into action and connect with another generation and get them excited about the possibilities of STEM was awesome. I can't put into words how enjoyable and valuable it's been so far, and I've really learned a lot from working with the Nanogirl team.”
Megan was supported by a Callaghan R&D experience grant.
Liam Coll, also a third year BCT student says having a versatile skillset meant the students could get in and help quickly. “I helped out wherever I could during a particularly busy time for the company. Initially my main job was to help coordinate and run a weekend-long event, and this progressed to various areas, such as editing videos, helping on a film set, planning office layouts and so on. Now I’m working as casual support staff for Nanogirl Labs while I finish my study.”
Creative Technologies undergraduate programme director and Lecturer Donna Cleveland says creative and technical skills are required in tandem more and more. “As ‘world changers’, our graduates are able to contribute unconventional and inventive approaches to existing and new roles across a diverse range of industries which makes them so desirable as future employees.”