Out of the CBD, but not out of touch

An example of the impact Online Workshops can have

Riley is a young, nearly 15 year old lad, with high aspirations. His mum Tia first met Techspace Learning director Don Eickhoff back in 2019, when the then Yankalilla Library and Techspace Learning organised Introductory Workshops for the Fleurieu Peninsula region. Riley was a very keen participant, and thoroughly enjoyed the hands on, in-person experience, as opportunities such as this were very rare in rural areas. Eager to learn more, Riley completed every Techspace Learning online workshop course he could throughout the pandemic and continued to expand his knowledge through his own experiments and projects at home.

Don saw many capabilities in this young teen, and he continued to encourage and mentor him from afar, inviting him to come along to volunteer at Techspace Learning Display stands at Science Events, when they were finally resumed in 2021. Riley was hesitant at first, as he was generally shy and introverted, but through the online courses, he was able to interact with the other participants and the facilitators, and became familiar with how Techspace operates. Once at the Science events, he soon realised he was with “his people” and thoroughly enjoyed working alongside other Techspace staff and Club members.

He volunteered at two major Science Alive events, and the smaller Science show at Victor Harbor. Long days of standing at the display stand, interacting with the general public and explaining how Arduino can allow you to create amazing projects, no matter what your previous experience or exposure to robotics. With each science event, Riley’s confidence grew, and it was noticeable by his Mum, and even by his teachers at school. So advanced had Riley’s knowledge become, that in DigiTech subjects he is now completing the grade level above his age level and his teachers acknowledge that he is already at the Arduino coding level of the school’s year 12 students.

Don was very impressed at Riley’s achievements and growth, and could see many similarities to his own sons at Riley’s age. When the opportunity came about to run a series of Beginners Workshops in Yankalilla, he offered Riley a paid position as a “Workshop Assistant”. Riley was thrilled to be able to continue his passion for robotics, and to get paid for it, an even more amazing opportunity. He is saving for components to build his own computer, and couldn’t be happier working with the team at Techspace Learning, and sharing his knowledge and skills with workshop participants.

When asked about what he enjoyed about being an assistant, he said:

“It has been good, interesting and enjoyable. I like helping others and see them learn what I learnt.”

Riley has taken the knowledge that he has gained from learning the coding style used in the Intermediate workshops and has applied this to many other coding platforms. Learning all the coding concepts, has given him exceptional ground knowledge to learn other coding languages easily. He is now expanding into other areas such as 3D printing and coding within games such as Minecraft.

This young lad has a bright future and is already standing out, for all the right reasons. His Mum couldn’t be prouder and more appreciative for the opportunities that Techspace have given Riley, and Techspace continues to look forward to continuing to support him in his robotic endeavours, despite living outside of the metropolitan area.

Out of the CBD, but not out of touch