Get the kids hacking

Young people in Stoke-On-Trent are set to become the most tech savvy in the UK when a new centre called WaveMaker opens in the city next month

The first WaveMaker taster session will take place on February 6-7, at the Mitchell Arts Centre in Stoke-on-Trent and will explore the technology demands and interests of the local community.

In the long term WaveMaker will find a permanent home in the city, creating a space for people of all ages who are interested in coding, making and technology in general. 

The WaveMaker project aims to strengthen Stoke-on-Trent’s presence on the UK’s technology map and involves some of the most pioneering organisations in the area: technology company bITjAM, Staffordshire University, Unity and the Potteries Hackspace. The project is funded by Comic Relief and Nominet trust. 

“WaveMaker was born out of Comic Relief’s desire to leave a lasting legacy in the area,” explained Ben McManus, coordinator of the Wavemaker project and managing director of bITjAM. “Our idea was to set up a space where creative people can meet up and share knowledge – a space where the makers, coders and creatives of Stoke-on-Trent can turn their brilliant ideas into reality.

“To succeed, we need everyone’s help,” continues McManus. ”We would like to invite local young people, parents, teachers, researchers and businesses to join us at the Mitchell Arts Centre on February 6 and 7 and tell us exactly what type of technology, workshops and projects they would like to see more of in Stoke-on-Trent.” 

During the first taster session, local schools are invited to visit the Mitchell Arts Centre on Friday, February 6, between 10:00 and 16:00. Friday afternoon is reserved for local businesses that want to find out more about the space and its potential applications. 

On Saturday, February 7, between 10:00 and 18:00, anyone with an interest in technology is welcome to drop in and find out more about Rasberry Pi Jam sessions, workshops with futuristic smart materials, Potteries Hackspace demos, Minecraft worlds, LED sticky bombs, a coding help desk, opportunities to meet leading representatives of engineering professionals, virtual reality, circuit bending, robotics and much more. 

According to WaveMaker’s initial research, Minecraft and programming are two themes that delight young people. The first WaveMaker taster session will include the design of an ideal Stoke-on-Trent using Minecraft technology.

The taster will also feature a workshop on creative approaches to programming, delivered by programmer Ashley James Brown, who specialises in building interactive experiences through coding, software and design tools. Brown will help visitors code their own interactive software tool that creates artworks as images you can export and share. On Saturday, February 7, Brown will be running Novel Interfaces to Create Music and Visuals drop-in sessions. 

There will also be talks and workshops available on a drop-in basis during the February taster. Keele University will be displaying its portable, inflatable 7.5m diameter planetarium called the Stardome. “The Keele Outreach team are pleased to support such an innovative project,” enthused Ant Sutcliffe outreach officer at Keele University.

STEM Staffs will be hosting a ‘make your own app’ workshop, while Tech Camp, the UK’s leading provider of technology-related camps for children, will also organise a workshop on light and lasers and one on electricity, during which participants can learn how to achieve unusual things with technology, like how to turn a gherkin into a high-voltage electric lamp and much more. 

Dan Wilson of Circitfied will also be building a thermal electric generator to convert low grade heat into an electricity resource, suitable for less developed countries and off-grid applications. 

So far, the Institute for Mechanical Engineers, the British Computing Society, Institution of Engineering and Technology and several local companies and schools have confirmed their participation to the event.

To find out more information about the first WaveMaker tester sessions, visit the official website on or drop by the Mitchell Arts Centre on February 7, 2015.