During the last two weeks of my internship at FACT, I had the chance to spend a couple of days with Lucia, Neil and the seven-to-ten year olds who were part of FACT’s summer camp, Prototype. Neil and Lucia run the summer camp on the ground floor, with varying age groups participating every week. While I was there, the participants were working on survival kits for what the future would look like in the year 3000.
Like many people my age and at this stage in life, I’m sitting on the fence about children. I tend to find even children in my own family - younger cousins, nieces or nephews - quite taxing after a few hours. So I went into this summer camp expecting the best, but prepared to be quite exhausted after the day was over. I certainly was not expecting to meet the least annoying children with whom I have ever interacted.
I was also not at all prepared to be thoroughly entertained throughout the day. Neil, FACT's Learning Technologist who works with the children, gave me a rundown of what the session was about on that day: when I arrived, the participants were well into creating the survival kits I mentioned earlier. I was paired with a team of two boys named Dawa and Tom, who explained to me that Liverpool would most likely be underwater by the year 3000, so their kit dealt with how to survive life submerged beneath the water. To this end, they had drawn up sketches and written little paragraphs to explain the ways they thought life would change in a thousand years.
It was particularly interesting to see how the two boys interacted with each other; Dawa did the drawing, and Tom wrote out the paragraphs. Tom also told me, quite matter-of-factly, that his own drawing was terrible and so he thought it was best to leave that to someone who knew what they were doing. I’ve been in enough group projects in university to know that this is a crucial planning detail which many adults still find hard to grasp, so I was both surprised and impressed by the way these two had managed to divide work between themselves.
Another team of two girls, were working on the same task but had chosen to use a 3D printer which was on hand next to their own station, in order to print out materials for their chart. I’ve never used one myself, so it was an enlightening experience for me to have the two young participants explain what they were doing; it was also wonderful to notice that almost all the participants spoke to me (and each other) like little adults, which is something I’ve rarely seen in such big groups of children. Later on, I watched as the same groups got together to write code and program different sets of lights to go on and off based on button triggers.
I’m also very pleased by the opportunity to work with and talk to Neil during this workshop; he’s great at encouraging the children, and seems to have a particular knack for settling some of the more rowdy ones down. Having this kind of guidance, and the opportunity to learn like this is an invaluable one for this age group, and something which FACT has strived to make accessible to children of all age groups.
Find out more about our upcoming October half term camp.