Ensuring students learn the skills to thrive in the future of work
It’s no secret that school curriculums struggle to keep up with developments in technology. IT and technology departments are typically way behind the curve when it comes to subject matter – that’s if they are able to get hold of the necessary equipment in the first place…
Thankfully, a new wave of business initiatives is helping to engage children with science, technology, engineering and maths in school from an early age. One of these is Dicey Tech, based at Bruntwood SciTech’s Manchester Science Park.
Disruption North spoke to co founder and CEO Alex Alexandrescu to find out more.
Bringing ideas to life
Alexandrescu was inspired to found Dicey Tech when studying for an MSc in Business Analysis and Strategy, when he realised that he needed to upgrade his technical skills. When various coding platforms left him feeling uninspired, he bought a cheap self-assembly 3D printer which he used to design and create a variety of items.
“Once I realised that I had the power to make things and bring my own ideas to life, I was hooked,” he says. “In a month, I learned the basics to design and code my own vehicle, and then I wanted to make drones, rockets, planes, trains, robots, and all sorts…”
“It was such an engaging learning experience that it didn’t even feel like learning. At that moment, my co founder and I realised that this should exist in schools. This is how people should learn about technology.”
Dicey Tech launched with QB – an open source 3D printer designed to provide teachers and learners with an affordable and high quality machine that can be used in classrooms. This then progressed into delivering bootcamps for students at school, during which they learn how to design, programme, and make their own items and smart devices.
When education meets industry
As an education technology company, Dicey Tech wants to bridge the gap between education and industry for schoolchildren through hands on learning experiences. This is crucial to inspiring the innovators and problem-solvers of tomorrow (a feat that government and business should take seriously if they want to close the skills gap that is estimated to cost the UK STEM sector £1.5bn each year…)
Alexandrescu explains how the model works:
“Working in collaboration with businesses across engineering and technology industries, we create exciting projects about these sectors and turn them into free bootcamps for schools. We then map out these projects to national curriculum standards, deliver them through our e-learning platform, and train teachers to sustainably embed them into their subjects.”
“Our focus is on creating more exciting projects, personalising the experience for learners, and opening up the platform for other people and organisations to deliver workshops and bootcamps,” he adds.
By design, the Dicey Tech model relies on collaborating with universities and other companies to deliver modern learning experiences. The business has a particularly good relationship with Manchester City Council and Manchester Science Partnerships, through which it is helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds experience new ways of learning and teaching, and access equipment and further resources.
During the pandemic, Dicey Tech has been putting its 3D printing capabilities to use by making visors for frontline NHS staff. Also conscious of the need to keep children engaged in education at home, the company created a free learning challenge.
“We launched the STEM Factor Challenge in partnership with Bruntwood SciTech,” says Alexandrescu. “It’s a growing series of projects delivered via our learning platform completely free. The goal is to help learners of all ages spend their time indoors productively by learning new skills like CAD, Python, and 3D printing, while making things like cookie cutters, robot egg painters, watering spouts, plant pots, and more.”
“Some of the learners have sent us their designs, which we’ve printed and shipped. Any profits we’ve made from this have been invested in materials for printing more face shields for the NHS.”
For more insights from our expert guest contributors, subscribe to our weekly newsletter