STEMiverse 0028 - Nigel Cartmell - From Architecture to the Mini Makers

January 8, 2018

Welcome to STEMiverse Podcast episode 28!

In this episode, Peter and Marcus talk with Nigel Cartmell!

Nigel is the founder of AKL Minimakers. Started in 2015, AKL Minimakers delivers parent-led technology workshops for Primary and Intermediate school age children. Nigel and other Minimakers members teach design thinking, and maker culture skills, for prototyping – electronics, coding, digital design and 3d printing.

The weekly workshops run weekly workshops started in February 2016, are financially supported by Parents, and partnered with Auckland Council and AUT (the Auckland University of Tecnnology). Their aim is to grow with the children (currently 11-years old), until they’re old enough to become junior tutors – a wider tutor base enabling an increase in class numbers.

In this interview, Nigel talks about his journey to start the Minimaker workshops as a way to help his daughter to learn and build cool stuff, and to complement what she was learning at school.

This is STEMiverse Podcast episode 28.


This podcast is brought to you by Tech Explorations, a leading provider of educational resources for Makers, STEM students, and teachers. Go to to see a complete list of our books and courses covering the Arduino, Raspberry Pi and electronics.



Show Notes

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Nigel Carmell
[02:17] Greetings
[03:02] Nigel talks about his background and about AKL Mini Makers
[07:39] Nigel's journey from Aviation to Architecture…
[13:49] ...And from Architecture to the Mini Makers
[20:47] Nigel's motivation for opening a Makerspace
[23:53] Nigel describes the first Mini Makers’ workshops
[24:30] How Nigel went about pitching his initiative to the school and parents
[26:20] Now that technology is more integrated in the school curriculum than it used to, does such a club like Mini Makers still have a place?
[27:30] Examples of Mini Makers' projects and their benefits for the students - From Sketchup, Scratch and mBots to SparkFun gyrostabilization projects and Arduino Robots
[32:29] How to introduce a complex project to kids
[33:30] Stumbling blocks during children's learning process in the Mini Makers club
[36:38] The 4 to 1 ratio between students and mentors as an ingredient to prevent frustration and keep students in the zone
[38:16] How Nigel finds tutors for the Mini Makers
[39:22] Nigel's future plans for world domination!
[41:16] Nigel's advice: Is Nigel's approach of running the Mini Makers group something anyone can implement in their local school?
[42:45] Nigel reflects on what he would have done differently
[44:08] How the children in the Mini Makers club have changed through the years
[47:21] Breaking things down to smaller parts to make sure the kids are not overwhelmed
[47:31] Nigel describes the process of writing a design brief
[49:24] Nigel's design thinking brought from the world of architecture
[50:41] What Nigel intends to bring back to architecture when he returns to the field
[53:04] How much are the topics, introduced by Nigel to the Mini Makers, his own interests, rather than what the students would like to learn?
[54:05] Influencers and book recommendations by Nigel:

[57:37] Potential bioship or earthship model projects for the Mini Makers
[59:44] Closing remarks and advice by Nigel: Look for the Maker clubs and get involved
[01:01:38] Nigel's Contact Information: Email:
[01:02:14] Learning monetization and entrepreneurship
[01:02:50] Science fairs and competitions: Encourage schools to enter


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