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About MadLab

Introduction
Is MadLab for me ?
People won't be interested, it's too dull and boring
What will people get out of MadLab ?
It sounds too difficult and dangerous
How does MadLab fit into the school curriculum ?
What ages and abilities is MadLab for ?
What do I need to run a workshop ?
How do I book MadLab ?


Introduction

MadLab is a unique, hands-on electronics workshop for children and adults. In the workshop participants solder electronic components onto specially-designed circuit boards. There are currently over forty MadLab kits which people can make - the simplest being Flashing Lights, the most complicated a programmable robot which is able to find its way around a maze. The excitement of MadLab is learning how to use a soldering iron, and actually being able to make and take home a working electronic circuit.

MadLab is part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, which is a forum for science events within a festival atmosphere. MadLab was formed more than ten years ago and during its existence has grown from a tiny workshop to a major event staged for science festivals around Europe and beyond (as far as Australia in fact). In this period over 75 000 MadLab kits have been built in more than a dozen countries. It has featured on the BBC's "Blue Peter" and "Newsround" programmes, on national and international radio stations, and appeared in newspapers and popular science magazines.

Our workshops attract a very broad range of people in terms of age, ability and social background. For most of them MadLab is their first opportunity to construct an electronic gadget. MadLab and the Edinburgh International Science Festival aim to broaden the exposure of people of all ages to interactive electronics.

MadLab has been made possible through the generous sponsorship and support of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Zot Engineering and Microchip.

MadMouse
What the Press says about MadLab
What the Public says about MadLab
Some photographs of MadLab in action
A history of where MadLab has been over the years



Is MadLab for me ?

Yes - if you're looking for a challenging and stimulating hands-on activity.

If you are a teacher, youth worker, or you work in a museum or science centre, then you can run your own MadLab workshop.

If you enjoy building electronic projects as a hobby, then you can order by mail our range of MadLab kits.

People won't be interested, it's too dull and boring

People are naturally curious about the world around them. People like to get their hands on technology, and enjoy making things.

Hands-on is the best way to learn and enjoy.

What will people get out of MadLab ?

First and foremost it's fun and rewarding to make something with one's hands.

Secondly it demystifies electronics. Electronics is a part of all our lives and is becoming more so - we are surrounded by computers, videos, fax machines and cashpoints. It is important to understand new technology to some extent, and not to be intimidated. MadLab helps to overcome people's technophobia. Electronic machines become less black boxes, just larger (and more complicated) examples of things already familiar.

MadLab can spark an interest in electronics which can open up new educational directions for individuals. We believe this is helping, in its small way, to address the problem of encouraging more women into the electronics and engineering professions. MadLab can supply follow-up educational material to those interested.

It sounds too difficult and dangerous

Anyone who is practical and organised can run a MadLab workshop.

The prospect of helping people to build and fix their kits may seem daunting, but a bit of logic and common sense will overcome most problems.

There is a risk involved in people using soldering irons. However if common-sense safety procedures are followed the likelihood of anybody injuring themselves is very small.

How does MadLab fit into the school curriculum ?

In Scotland, the workshop complements the following attainment targets in the Environmental Studies 5 - 14 National Guidelines.

Science: Energy and Forces, Level C
  • construct simple battery-operated circuits, identifying the main components
  • classify materials as electrical conductors or insulators and describe how these are related to the safe use of electricity
  • describe the energy conversions in the components of an electrical circuit
Skills in Technology: Designing and Making, Level C
  • use given resources and processes to carry out a task safely

In England, the workshop complements the following attainment targets in The National Curriculum.

Sc4 Physical Processes: Electricity, KS1 & KS2
  • about everyday appliances that use electricity
  • about simple series circuits involving batteries, wires, bulbs and other components
  • to construct circuits, incorporating a battery or power supply and a range of switches, to make electrical devices work
Sc3 Materials and their Properties: Grouping and classifying materials, KS1
  • that some materials are better electrical conductors than others

What ages and abilities is MadLab for ?

MadLab is for everyone - male, female, young, old - from the age of about 6 upwards. It appeals to all ages, and equally to both sexes.

MadLab is for adults and children of all abilities (including special-needs children). It is our experience that just about everybody is capable of building a MadLab kit.

What do I need to run a workshop ?

You need some helpers:
  • Helpers should be good with people, patient, and practical but not necessarily with a technical background.
  • A mix of male and female helpers is desirable.

You need a venue for the workshop:
  • It should be well lit and ventilated. Daylight, though not direct sunlight, is preferable.
  • You need sturdy, stable, and clean work surfaces for kit construction, with sturdy and stable chairs or stools.

You need a soldering station for each participant with the following equipment:
  • soldering iron (low-voltage soldering irons and silicone rubber cables are recommended)
  • soldering iron stand
  • safety goggles
Note: A circuit breaker must be connected between the mains electricity supply and all electrical equipment.

You also need some communal equipment:
  • reels of solder
  • wire cutters and wire strippers
  • solder suckers

How do I book MadLab ?

In the UK and the rest of Europe
In Wales
In Australia and New Zealand
In Canada


     
   

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