Brighton project to get kids into tech in the running for national award

BrightSparks launch at Eagle Labs (Photograph: Chris Quigley)
BrightSparks launch at Eagle Labs (Photograph: Chris Quigley)

An education startup has been recognised for its technology mentoring programme for disadvantaged children in Brighton and Hove.

The award-winning MakerClub launched a BrightSparks in March this year, and the programme has been named finalist in the national Tech4Good Awards.

BrightSparks matches children in the city from disadvantaged or low-income families directly with Brighton tech companies who sponsor individual younsters for 12 months of weekly technology mentorship.

The company said it's a chance to make a life-changing difference to children who will typically not have had access to maker technology at school or at home.

"Reaching the finals of an important national competition is a big boost for us at MakerClub," said MakerClub CEO Simon Riley.

"And we're thrilled Brighton technology companies have supported BrightSparks so well. We've had over 20 sponsors sign up so far, a great sign city companies really understand the need to go that bit further to find young talent to fuel the local creative tech economy."

Mr Riley said studies have shown that children from low-income families have significantly less chances of entering into a science, engineering, technology or maths (STEM) job. At the same time, nationally, 47 per cent of digital companies say the education system isn’t meeting the needs of business.

Declan Cassidy, who leads on BrightSparks, said: "MakerClub runs weekly invention clubs for ages eight to 13 in makerspaces across the UK.

"We give children access to brilliant equipment like 3D printers and laser cutters, while teaching hands-on invention skills through regular project work that covers coding, design-thinking and electronics.”

National finals of the Tech4Good Awards take place in London at BT's headquarters on July 11. Judging for the main awards is taking place behind closed doors, but the People’s Choice Award is down to a public vote.

The company are now keen to get supporters and friends to join a public vote, so that BrightSparks is also contender for the People's Award 2017.

To vote in the Tech4Good Awards, supporters can tweet about their favourite scheme to @Tech4GoodAwards, using thehashtag #T4GBrightSparks

Supporters can also vote directly on the Tech4Good Awards website, here.