Mumbai

Making in maker space

The sharing of similar passions to create something larger is always a welcome initiative. So, naturally, it’s a boon when a new space in the city encourages like-minded people to come together to share scientific knowledge and indulge in collaborative projects for free.

Titled Maker’s Universe, the Andheri (Veera Desai Road) spot is a hub for science enthusiasts and the perpetually restless who yearn to create and build. The brainchild of Henna Khan, who wears several hats including educator, MBA graduate and self-proclaimed astronomer, the maker space is an extension of Universe Simplified, which has been running science and astronomy workshops across schools since 2013.

Children and adults alike are welcome to attend a one-hour workshop every Saturday by experts in astronomy, robotics, electronics, origami, making paper planes and even programming. This is followed by a couple of hours dedicated to serious creation. “Since most schools and offices are closed on weekends, we thought why not start a ‘once-a-week’ maker space so more people can get access to a community of makers who come together and find solutions to local challenges,” explains Khan. So every weekend, a nondescript office space belonging to the engineering group A.T.E. Enterprises Private Limited transforms into a rather fascinating environment.

The community is also working on setting up similar spaces within schools and orphanages in the city. Two already exist at a city orphanage and a Zilla Parishad school in Mamnovli. “In the next two months, we hope to have five maker spaces up and running for economically challenged children,” Khan says.

As a child, Khan’s most cherished dream was to become either an astrophysicist or an astronaut. However, she wasn’t exposed to a platform where she could explore the prospect, and ended up studying engineering followed by an MBA. But the science bug has never left her, leading to the foundation of Universe Simplified, which encourages hands-on scientific education. “At our first session, it was nice to see a five-year-old making geometrical shapes using an educational toy, with a 65-year-old sitting nearby doing arts and crafts,” she laughs.

At the opening session which this writer attended, a lecture on solar panels was underway. This was followed by a workshop with kids and adults alike building solar-panelled cars (some built rickshaws) using basic materials like cardboard, batteries and solar panels, all provided at the space. The place was soon abuzz with car races and screams of “Eureka!” as the test runs proved successful. “Look, I’m building a rocket ship for a pterodactyl to reach the moon,” exclaims five-year-old Yohan Alexander, who used a material known as ‘magic sand’ to bind the structure.

Not too far away, physics major Meera Rathore was in deep discussion with a group of five people, one of them a filmmaker, about the drone they’re building from scratch. “We’re forming an older community where we can take up more intensive projects on a long-term basis,” says Rathore. The space also provides motors, art-and-craft material, breadboards, electronic components, Arduino boards, drill machines among others, as long as they are recycled every week.

But if you think only the next Carl Sagan or Stephen Hawking are the sort of people welcome, Khan’s mother Niloufer proves it’s otherwise. Sitting in the midst of all the wiring and technical jargon, she creates intricately-designed coasters using decoupage. “I might be the odd one out, but somebody did approach me to ask if I was interested in lighting up my cards,” she says. Goes to show that at the end of the day, everything connects, whether electronic or otherwise.

The author is a freelance writer

Maker’s Universe is open from 2:30pm to 5.30pm every Saturday at A.T.E. Enterprises Private Limited, Veera Desai Road, Andheri. Entry is free and for people of all ages. Log onto www.facebook.com/UniverseSimplified for more details.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 2:30:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/Making-in-maker-space/article16667464.ece

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