Stemiverse 0028 – Nigel Cartmell – From Architecture to the Mini Makers 

 February 13, 2018

By  Peter

In this episode, Dr. Peter Dalmaris and Marcus Schappi talk with Nigel Cartmell.

Nigel is the founder of AKL Mini-makers. Started in 2015, AKL Mini-Makers delivers parent-led technology workshops for Primary and Intermediate school-age children. Nigel and other AKL Mini-Makers’ 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 Technology). 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 AKL Mini-Makers’ 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.

Stemiverse 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 Cartmell
  • [02:17] Greetings
  • [03:02] Nigel talks about his background and AKL Mini-Makers
  • [07:39] Nigel’s journey from Aviation to Architecture…
  • [13:49] …And from Architecture to the AKL Mini-Makers
  • [20:47] Nigel’s motivation for opening a Makerspace
  • [23:53] Nigel describes the first AKL 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 into the school curriculum than it used to be, does such a club like AKL Mini-Makers still have a place?
  • [27:30] Examples of AKL Mini-Makers’ projects and their benefits for the students – From SketchupScratch, and mBots to SparkFun gyro-stabilization 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 AKL 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 AKL Mini-Makers.
  • [39:22] Nigel’s plans for world domination!
  • [41:16] Nigel’s advice: Is Nigel’s approach of running the AKL 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 AKL Mini-Makers’ club have changed through the years
  • [47:21] Breaking things down into 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 AKL Mini-Makers, his 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 AKL 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: [email protected]
  • [01:02:14] Learning monetization and entrepreneurship
  • [01:02:50] Science fairs and competitions: Encourage schools to enter


Peter Dalmaris is an educator, electrical engineer, electronics hobbyist, and Maker. Creator of online video courses on DIY electronics and author of three technical books, and has recently released his book Maker Education Revolution.   As a Chief Tech Explorer since 2013 at Tech Explorations, the company he founded in Sydney, Australia, Peter’s mission is to explore technology and help educate the world.  Tech Explorations offers educational courses and Bootcamps for electronics hobbyists, STEM students and STEM teachers. A life-long learner, Peter’s core skill is in explaining difficult concepts through video and text. With over 15 years of tertiary teaching experience, Peter has developed a simple yet comprehensive style in teaching that students from all around the world appreciate.  His passion for technology and in particular for the world of DIY open source hardware has been a dominant driver that has guided his personal development and his work through Tech Explorations. Peter’s current online courses have helped over 60,000 people from around the world to be better Makers. 

Peter Dalmaris

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