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Explore Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s best kept secrets: the workshops at MakerBay, and how they help inventive children realise their ideas

Watch: collaborative workspaces in Yau Tong and Central hold classes to teach children the basics of skills such as woodwork, bookbinding, metalwork, laser cutting and 3D printing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 December, 2016, 8:03am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 December, 2016, 8:02am

Children may be full of bright and imaginative ideas, but in Hong Kong few of them get access to the space, skills or the right tools to bring them to life. Now, however, there is a place in the city designed to nurture their innovative minds: MakerBay.

Founded last year, MakerBay is a collaborative workspace stocked with all sorts of tools and equipment, so inventors, engineers and designers alike can make use of them to realise their ideas.

Hong Kong’s MakerBay: a place for inventors to pool ideas and learn from each other

It isn’t just a playground for adults; MakerBay also hosts different classes for children at its headquarters in Yau Tong and opened a smaller but more accessible workshop at PMQ in Central in October.

There are induction classes on subjects such as woodwork, bookbinding, metalwork, laser cutting and 3D printing, where children have access to large-scale equipment not normally found in homes or schools. The fees start from HK$250 per class and include all the material costs.

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Every now and then, MakerBay launches new classes, inviting their creative members to share their skill sets. One of them is Cecilia Lai, who holds a class on how to make handloom scarves. While industrial looms are usually the size of a piano, the fashion and textile graduate devised a smaller and simpler version of the machine, which students can take home after class to continue working on their products.

For more committed students, there is also a four-day course, called “Becoming a technologist’ (HK$4,000 for four two-hour sessions) where kids work on a project on a weekly basis. They learn about basic electronics and coding through making robots, clocks and thumb pianos. These activities help them visualise scientific concepts which may otherwise seems too perplexing for primary school children.

The classes aim to be both fun and challenging, and the idea is that children not only get to bring home a final product, but also transferable skills that will be useful in the long term.

“Our focus is not just on making,” says Fiona Ching, the managing director of MakerBay. “The handcraft skills are certainly important, but more so are the soft skills involved, such as problem-solving, collaborating and knowing it’s OK to fail.

“Failure is an essential and inevitable part of innovation.”

MakerBay, PMQ, Unit H508, Block B, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central. For details: makerbay.org