My career in technology started as a Geotechnical Engineer working on GIS systems and coding environmental data and building gas sensors but I started to work with young people at LJMU University to help them integrate making into statistical teaching.

This resulted in contributing to several research papers in Maker Culture and makerspaces in HE. I was already a maker and part of the community for a long time, even back then and have been part of one of the oldest open source communities, OggCamp, where I have organized their hardware hack section for many years.

I published on EdTech research early on in my career and helped set up one of the first roll-on-roll-off makerspaces in HE but realised that I needed to go younger to get young women into technology. So, in 2015 I co-founded the first Makefest in the UK, Liverpool Makefest, at Liverpool’s Central Library. It’s a free one-day festival that enables people of all ages to explore how science, technology, engineering and arts and crafts are shaping our world. This is done through exhibits, demonstrations and hands-on activities. Crucially it is organised by a team of volunteers from the local ‘Maker’ community and continues to offer opportunities for tinkering, testing, coding and creating. Families can get hands-on with activities hosted by an array of engineers, hackers, coders, makers, artists and scientists… and is free for all. In 2018 the National libraries Taskforce expanded Makefest to all UK Libraries with the launch of our government guidance. The first Makefest was funded by an incredibly small amount I donated from my then PGCE fund, but, for Liverpool, it resulted in a dozen bids for future digital free events and to kick-start funding to support digital education. This year, it celebrated its 7th year alongside now, many more Makefests, UK-wide.

https://dcmslibraries.blog.gov.uk/2019/10/11/liverpool-makefest-5-years-in-the-making/

In 2014, I retrained as a physics teacher with the intent of setting up the first SCHOOL makerspace in the UK. Whilst initially my focus was on the actual teaching of physics, I was still able to run several awards-winning enrichments and twice, made it to the National Science and Technology Awards (Big Bang finals resulting in my students winning the North West Digital Innovation Award and National Collaborate to Innovate Award for their technology projects. I wanted however to expand opportunities for all students to engage in Industry 4.0 technologies and so in 2017, I achieved my aim of setting up the first school makerspace in the UK. For this and my community engagement with tech I was awarded the National New Teacher of the Year by the Times Education Supplement (TES) the following July and followed this up by developing first Industry 4.0 digital pathway for children as part of their enrichment curriculum

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/trailblazing-teacher-who-turns-pupils-makers

I then focused on improving digital education for teachers by serving on many independent organisations, advisory forums and strategic bodies and developed guidance for teachers on EdTech and digital education, whilst simultaneously studying for a Masters’s in Data Science and continuing to teach during COVID. Today I am a Doctoral Researcher, developing digitalisation tools for education using ML/AI at the University of Central Lancashire. I still volunteer to teach and train librarians, teachers and often young people in using a variety of digital tools including:

  • Computer-Aided Design & Digital Fabrication – eg. 2D and 3D design (e.g. Autodesk & CAD), 3D printing.
  • Rapid Prototyping & Open-source – physical & digital prototyping, app control, GitHub.
  • Design Thinking – observational techniques, leadership, iteration, systems theory, UX/UI.
  • Physical Computing & Coding – e.g. Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Micro: bit, Circuit Playground, C++, Python, Node-red, CSS, HTML.
  • Data Visualization – advanced formulas, data analysis, data design.
  • Game Design – g. Unity
  • Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (AR) – e.g. Blippar, Unity, app development.

I am a Maker at heart and believe in sharing and providing students with diverse, rich learning environments in which the creativity of the student as a “maker” can flourish through physical computing, digital fabrication and coding letting all children develop the skills to engage in careers in technology