So far in 2016, we’ve had the privilege of spotlighting six exceptional community members that are making a difference in their local communities. This month, we are highlighting Hive Manchester in England and how they are helping to create more digital making opportunities for young people through mentorships and events in Greater Manchester.
We spoke with Damian Payton, co-founder of Hive Manchester, to learn more about the collaboration happening in their community. Here is what he had to say.
How did Hive Manchester get its start?
Hive Manchester was inspired by the other Hive communities we met over several years at Mozfest. Steven Flower and I were already working in digital access and skills in Manchester and shared many of Mozilla’s aims, so we decided to found Hive Manchester together. At Mozfest 2014, a Hive was officially set up, and just before Mozfest 2015 we gained funding from Manchester City Council to run Hive as a ‘pilot project’ for one year. That has been extended by a local authority for another sixth months and are actively seeking partnership with other local organizations.
Manchester already had a vibrant community of organisations like Code Club, Coderdojo and others, teaching digital literacy to young people, educators and people in the community. Starting a Hive was a way to bring this together more closely and collaboratively, building on a strong existing scene.
What is Hive Manchester’s most noteworthy #teachtheweb accomplishment?
Our Youth Hacks has proven a big success – two-day coding events for youth, which we’ve started running every couple of months in different venues, attracting 30 – 100 people each time. Feedback from the young people attending has confirmed that they love the events and gain a great deal of learning that is not available in school. Employers in the area have proved extremely keen to partner with us at the events, offering mentors, sponsorships and challenges (e.g. “Design an app that has a positive social impact – you decide what this means to you” or “Use a Raspberry Pi to create a robot that can pick up and move an egg one metre – without breaking”) The employers help because they strongly believe in the ‘hack’ way of learning, want to contribute to the the community, and are keen to nurture growth while also finding new talent for their companies.
To see more Hack Manchester Junior 2015 interviews, watch the full playlist here.
What is one stand-out project that has made a positive impact on the local community?
Hive Manchester was contracted to run Picademy, the Raspberry Pi (RPi) Foundation’s flagship educator training programme. It’s an intensive two-day course, with Day 1 focusing on five key RPi learning resources and Day 2 was a hack. We ran six of these sessions for 30 educators each time, reaching not only our city but educators from around Europe, the U.S., Australia and Singapore.
Read about one Picademy attendee’s experience here.
How is the organization inspiring others to #teachtheweb?
Our aim is not just to run digital making events ourselves – we want to provide an example and inspiration that others can follow. We are sharing our methods and insights through the Hive Manchester Playbook, an open resource that any educator, community organisation or tech worker can use as a guide for creating their own events – available to share soon!
What’s next for Hive Manchester?
Hive Manchester hopes to work more closely with ‘formal education’ to help them integrate methods like hack days into the school day. To get this right, we need tech experts from local businesses to join us in working directly with young people in schools.