Recently, at the [email protected] ICT awards 2018, three young boys who go by the name WeMakers, won the award in the Junior Student category. Not only are they students themselves but their product, called the Tinker Box, is targeted at students as well.
So, we at ChalkTalk decided to ask them about it and this is what one of the founders, 19-year-old Syed Ali Ahmed, had to say:
Q. Let’s first talk about your recent win at the [email protected] ICT Awards 2018. How did it feel to win among the bigwigs of tech and innovation?
A. It was quite literally a dream come true! We’ve been wondering how to get recognition for our work for a long time and now that we finally have it, we are truly thankful to everyone who supported our venture all this while. We definitely would not have reached this milestone without all the support and trust given to us by our parents, mentors as well as our alumni’s parents.
Of course, there’s so much still to be done and we hope we can achieve all that we dream of.
Q. Tell us a little about how WeMakers came about. How many team members do you have and what are you all currently pursuing in terms of education?
A. WeMakers came together as a result of three brothers who love to take things apart and tinker with technology! I am 19 years old and a freshman at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), my brother Syed Ali Azhar is 14 and our youngest brother, Syed Ali Bilal, is 13. Both my brothers are currently home-schooled.
We started off by doing, learning and experimenting ourselves and then, decided to share our learnings with other kids in our own living room. Gradually, our work expanded and we pitched at The Nest I/O and got selected. That’s when it all really took off and now we operate out of our own office space in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, and we conduct our courses and projects there.
Q. What was your core objective behind WeMakers?
A. The main goal for WeMakers is to evangelise the ‘Maker Culture’ in Pakistan. In the west, there is a group called the Makers. It’s a really awesome bunch of people who tinker with and make cool things out of stuff they find lying around. We want to bring that culture here in Pakistan.
Q. What do children learn when they enrol in a WeMakers’ course? Do they have options or is there one course for all?
A. We have a range of courses including Robotics, Programming and 3D printing. And we hope to introduce more courses in the future. We don’t have a continuous schedule for our courses but we keep posting our upcoming programmes on social media.
Q. Who can register for your programme and what age groups do you cater to?
A. We target children between 7 and 14 years of age. Our courses are designed in such a way that we encourage children of different ages to work together as a team.
Children learn more than simply technical skills this way. They learn social skills, the art of mentoring (and being mentored) as well as teamwork and collaboration.
Q. Where do you conduct your courses/classes?
A. We conduct our courses at our office space in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, but we also collaborate with schools and summer/winter camps to provide our programmes at their locations.
We have successfully held sessions at Origins School and Beaconhouse among others. We also organised a summer camp at the Lincoln Corner in Karachi and have exhibited our projects at Generation school and Dawood Public School as well.
Q. How many students have attended your course/classes so far?
A. Alhumdulillah, we have impacted 200 young minds in the last one year alone and hope to increase this number by leaps and bounds
Q. Please tell us a little about the Tinker Box – the invention that got you the big win at the [email protected] ICT awards this year?
A. The Tinker Box is one of our projects. Basically, it is a subscription-based tool kit that gets delivered to the subscriber on a weekly basis. Each box contains items to build educational projects.
We have also integrated the kit with an app which shows the instructions as Augmented Reality Animations.
Q. How involved have your parents been during this entire journey?
A. It may sound clichéd but our parents really have been our greatest support during the entire course of this initiative. There mentorship and guidance has literally lead us to where we are today. We couldn’t have done it without their encouragement; although, like most parents, they did occasionally say that we need to take time out for actual studies!
Q. What plans does WeMakers have for the future?
A. At the moment, we are working on developing more products like the Tinker Box. We are also learning how to develop apps and games with the purpose of making learning more engaging for kids. And we are looking into developing video content for YouTube as well.
We have our hands full, you might say!
We don’t know about you guys but we are definitely impressed by this young trio. Apart from their recognition and awards, we believe their biggest achievement is surely instilling curiosity and inquisition in the youth of Pakistan. And we hope they fulfill all their dreams and keep inspiring the youth to rise higher and higher!