Future Learning Magazine May 2021

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MAY 2021

Long Island Library NY Classroom air quality

School makerspaces Design in Schools

People centred design

Recycled plastics

Modern makers

The future of face masks

Makers Empire

Makers For Future Thinking Teachers - Brought to you by STEM Punks®

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Editors Note

George Bernard Shaw famously stated that “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” It is the ability to make and create and design that is so embraced in childhood, yet as we progress through adolescence the emphasis is placed elsewhere. So it’s with joy that we revisit the art of Making this month. We’ve interviewed some incredible makers from our own backyard to the other side of the world. Most notably, the founder of the modern Maker movement, Make Magazine and the Maker Fairs, Dale Dougherty. Still in the US, we gained insight into the amazing Long Island Library Makerspace and spoke to the studentled inventors and designers at PolAir. Closer to home, a terrific example of a recycled plastics makerspace in Melbourne, and the wonderful teachers at St Aidans Anglican College showed us their Makerspaces – not one but two! – and discussed their pedagogies around making. Andrew Lane, an award-winning architect in Far North Queensland is one of only a few Indigenous Architects in Australia and discusses his philosophy around people-centred design. Ex teacher Mandi Dimitriadis uses her online 3D modelling computer program in schools developed to give teachers the tools, skills and resources to engage students in STEM learning via 3D design and 3D printing. Finally, have you ever thought about the air quality in classrooms and how it impacts on learning? The team at the University of Queensland conducted research into this, and their findings might surprise you. That fascinating story is on page 16. We’ve been really fortunate to have so many talented contributors in this issue and hope you’re inspired to start making. As always, we love hearing from you so feel free to message us to showcase your own creations. Our next issue is all about food technology in line with the theme for National Science Week: Food - Different by Design.

Fiona Holmstrom Editor & Publisher BFA (CW) MWEP fiona@stempunks.com.au


In this issue

03 Learning through play 04 Modern Makers 07 People centred design 10 School makerspaces 12 Recycled plastics 13 The future of face masks 15 Sachem Public Library 16 Classroom Air Quality 18 Design in Schools Contributors Writing by Julie Scott at Julie Scott Writing Services Graphic design by Leticia Packer at Arara digital creative For advertising enquiries, contact hello@stempunks.com.au Have a STEM related story for Future Learning magazine? fiona@stempunks.com.au

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Learning through play by Michael Holmstrom CEO STEM Punks

Our learning process at STEM Punks is based on ‘play’. As kids, we learn through play. We explore and interact with our environment to understand how things work. As we grow older, we tend to forget the importance of play and we turn to traditional methods of ‘teacher-learner knowledge transfer’. As Ken Robinson explains in this entertaining and informative video, learning through play is such a fundamental process, that we at STEM Punks believe should be preserved and nurtured. All our programs have an element of play where we explore the different facets of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). For example, coding can be a heavy-duty subject, but through methods like storytelling, our learners will develop an understanding of how coding can be used as a valuable tool to tell these stories. Through our robotics classes, we explore how human-machine interaction can help in everyday life. We learn how sensors interact with the environment and how robots learn and react to their surrounds. Making STEM education fun is in our DNA. It is our mission to inspire and develop future innovators.

MAY 2021



Modern Makers Dale Dougherty

Dale Dougherty is the founder of MAKE and he is often referred to as the ‘godfather of the maker movement.’ Dale spoke with us about the maker movement, the importance of making and how this can be integrated and optimised in schools. Dale started the MAKE magazine in 2005, because, “I was inspired by seeing people doing things like building robots, it could be buildings or planes, all kinds of stuff and a lot of technology-based things. I had the idea, if you’re a cook you read magazines about cooking, if you’re woodworking, it has projects in them. I thought, we have all this technology around us, all this stuff, but we’ve kind of lost some of the know how to put that stuff together in new ways. I came up with the name MAKE and I though, we’re going to call our audience makers. We’re not just readers, we’re makers.” Following the creation of the MAKE magazine, Dale started the first Maker Faire in the Bay Area of San Francisco, in 2006. He recalled, “what I think appeals to me about makers is that they were enthusiasts. They were people that loved doing what they were doing. They weren’t imagining that they were going to be CEOs of a big company or that this was going to take them anywhere. They just love doing it. This is playful, it’s kind of what you do as a kid when you have the time. I thought, even on a cultural level, we need to do more of this as adults, we need to do more of this stuff and play with it and figure out what it can do.” Dale reflected on the importance of making, “often making is done as a hobby but one of the values of hobbies, apart from getting good at it or doing it is that you connect to other people because of it. People that are not in your family, they’re not necessarily in your friends’ network, they didn’t go to school with you. They just have the same interests. I think that’s what is powerful about making is that you start making these connections to other interesting people and it’s not because they work for you or that you work for them. That can just open things up for you.” Dale continued, “and as kids, that product you have is really interesting, but I’m actually interested in the product. That’s you, that you’re becoming. That you develop, that you tried to do things and even with limited success, that begins to define you.” Developing maker spaces and maker programs in schools is something that Dale is passionate about. He explained, “sometimes in our conformance culture, if you stick out too much, people think there is something wrong with you, that you’re weird. So, being creative is kind of weird but when you put all of those weird people together, that’s when you get


Dale Dougherty at one of the Maker Faires , organised by MAKE Magazine.

this intensity and passion, and it feeds off each other.” Dale reflected that some social media sites can stifle creativity and inspiration. He countered, “you should never ask a maker why they did that. You could ask them their inspiration and their answer could simply be, I had an idea and I just acted on it. That’s wonderful.” Dale discussed how he has created maker spaces and what he believes are essential elements of such creative maker spaces. “I thought of maker spaces as a kind of solution that we needed everywhere. They could be different sizes, just for kids or multi-generational. Given the ten years that we’ve actually had so many of them in so many communities and different kinds of contexts, I still feel like the potential is under realised. Especially in schools, I wanted to create something other than a classroom. I wanted to create something that didn’t have desks. I wanted work benches. That’s actually the most important thing. Maker space is a place to do work and particularly a workbench that has multiple people working at it.” Dale also emphasised the importance of makers moving around and interacting with others in the maker space.

I had an idea and I just acted on it

The development of improved maker programs, which appeal more broadly to students, in schools, is a challenge that Dale has identified. He explained, “too often, the maker space is just getting the kids that already have the interest and they can work on their own. They’re already self-directed, so maybe, that’s one third of kids. What about the other two thirds? How do we help them get along?” A second issue that Dale discussed is the curriculum or other constraints that teachers often feel, in the maker space. “Teachers are not comfortable asking kids what they want to make and letting them make it. It’s like, no, I’ve got to give you a challenge or I’ve got to align this with the curriculum.” Dale continued, “that open-ended kind of project is really, sometimes difficult for teachers and others to figure out how to support.” Dale reflected on his maker journey. “Actually, my most satisfying moments about making and education is when I’ve heard from educators, something along these lines, that this is why I got into education. Not to be a proctor of standardized tests but to help students become creative and learn.”

MAY 2021



People centred design Andrew Lane

STEM Punks spoke with architect Andrew Lane from Indijdesign, an award-winning architecture and design practice whose goal is to reflect indigenous cultural values of human relatedness and connection to country through their architectural philosophy and design products. Andrew recounted that he spent his early years growing up in Darwin but had to leave with his family in 1974, when Cyclone Tracy tore through the city. Andrew and his family moved to Brisbane and Andrew recalled, “going into the Brisbane CBD and being around all these tall buildings. It’s almost like the buildings are a framework of this living organism that is the city. When people come in and out of it, it’s almost like the blood of the animal is moving in to give the city life.” Andrew recounted his favourite subject at school, “probably the only subject I did really good at was technical drawing. I’m not sure what they call it now, but I did perspectives, plans and elevations and all of those sorts of things.” Andrew just missed out on getting the grades to get into the university architecture course, so he worked for five years following school. He then applied to the Aboriginal Studies Unit as a mature age student and was subsequently accepted into the University of Queensland architecture course in 1989. Andrew prefers to refer to architecture as a trade rather than a profession. He explained, “I think there is something almost a bit snooty about the word profession. There’s something about it that people think you have to be smart to be.” Andrew continued, “when architecture was done back in the fifteen hundreds, you know, the Leonardo Da Vinci’s and Michelangelo’s, it was an apprenticeship. So, I see architecture as a trade because it was an apprenticeship that you did with a master and that’s how you gained your qualification and recognition as a designer of things.”

visual arts and creativity and creating space. I said, look, I think more people would be interested in it if they actually had the view that it’s actually a creative endeavour.” Andrew continued, “I think that indigenous people can contribute to the world of architecture in developing more ways to create connection to country, through design. It’s certainly something that we push in our projects.” What advice would Andrew give his younger self? “You learn more in the losses and the failures than you do in the wins because if you keep winning, it doesn’t take you anything. If you lose, there’s a lesson to be learned and in a way, it’s the same kind of thing with the design process.” Andrew continued, “two things I would tell myself. Be more curious about everything being asked. More questions about things around you, about the natural environment, about the built environment. Just be more curious and take notice of what’s around you. The other one is to understand mathematics. I have an appreciation of mathematics now.” Andrew explained, “if I had the right person to teach me that mathematics was a language and when you see a formula, it’s a sentence or a story. All you’ve got to do is understand the language to read the story. Then I think it all would have made more sense to me.” Andrew concluded, “life is a serious game. So, you’ve got to have your light moments as well and have good friends and good fun as you travel the path.” Further information about Indijdesign can be located at indijdesign.com.au

Andrew recalled being at a BLAKitecture forum in Melbourne and being asked why there weren’t more indigenous people doing architecture? Andrew reflected on his response, that “a lot of people think that you have to be really smart and high in physics and all this other stuff. When the background of it is actually MAY 2021









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School Spotlight

St Aidan’s


School makerspaces

St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School is located in the Brisbane suburb of Corinda and strives to nurture each of its 800 students, through a vibrant learner centred community. Central to this learning approach, are teacher librarians Jackie Child and Megan Daley who have created a Makerspace at the school library. So successful was this Makerspace that a second Makerspace was subsequently created. The school runs after-school Maker clubs and also opens the Makerspace to students during lunch times. Jackie recalled, “I found out about the maker movement many years ago, in fact we’ve been doing it for seven years. I came back to Megan and said, this maker movement is really going to happen. There is no better fit than the library because we have information and technology where students could do their research and then go off and make things.” Jackie continued, “it’s a place where the girls can come in with ideas and then they can use the technology we have there, whether it be making a film, using the iPads, prototyping ideas that they’ve got or sewing. In all of those sorts of things and what we do, we use our library lessons to introduce a technology to the girls and then they’re able to take that knowledge and use those skills in the Makerspace.”

Don’t hold back, let your imagination go


Megan described how books are used to alongside technology as a spark to start discussions, facilitate different perspectives and generate lots of creative ideas. “Many of our particularly Australian authors are makers themselves and so often, there is an element of making and creating in what they’re writing about. I’m working with the year sixes at the moment on a book called How to Make a Bird by Meg McKinlay and it is actually about making something beautiful and then being able to let it free and let it be out in the world. We’ve been able to talk about ephemeral art and the fact that art doesn’t always last. We’ve talked about the elements that you need to make a bird and then make it robotic. Jackie added that they had also used the books Mechanica and Aquatica by Lance Balchin. “The girls did some amazing things from that and they used some magnets and put it on wheels, and they moved it along. Some of them used DC motors.” Megan emphasised the role of books, “every book has got a spark that can have a making element to it. Don’t hold back, let your imagination go. You have to have somebody to bounce ideas off as well.”


Jackie highlighted the importance of failure and that failing becomes a part of the fun. Jackie said, “they learn from failure. If it doesn’t work, why doesn’t it work? Then, they go back over their steps and they improve it and make it work.” Megan continued, “There are so many books about failure as well. So many of our famous figures in history and currently contemporary figures, have failed before they succeeded slowly. We started off in the Makerspace and talk about taking risks. We did word walls on words about failing and words about success, we took quotes out of the books about it. I think books give you the vocabulary around all of this and, some of the scenarios and then the Makerspace just takes it to a whole other level.” Jackie explained, “the jobs that we are doing now, may not exist in a few years. If you’re curious about something, you’ll find out about it and the idea too. We want them to become self-directed learners and to do that, they’ve got to be curious. They want to learn. So, we’re trying to give them that.”

MAY 2021


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Recycled plastics Piers Mossuto

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Piers Mossuto is so passionate about the circular economy, that he established Precious Plastic, in Melbourne, to recycle plastic. In an interview with STEM Punks, Piers explained, “we are the Melbourne charter of a global community, a community that was based in the Netherlands, originally. They had come up with plans for recycling machines that are small scale, and they were able to design them and give them out, open source, to encourage people to grow and set up their own communities, recycling workshops and education as well.” Since starting Precious Plastic, a national collector has donated 300 000 plastic bottle caps. Piers explained that bottle caps are great for recycling because of the colour variety and low temperatures required to melt them. Piers described the plastic recycling process. “The caps come in and we’ll throw a whole box of them into our granulator which crushes the caps into a fine chip. You can then put that fine plastic chip into a hopper where it is melted and can then be used for injection, extrusion or compression moulding.”

Piers Mossuto.

Piers described his goals for Precious Plastic, this year. “Now that we’ve been doing this for a couple of years, we want to replicate what we’re doing around Australia. We are supplying plastic, we’re doing manufacturing and we’re doing education as well, so we’ll be touching base with a few schools. We’ve got a few days set up where we’ll be talking about recycling but also showing them how to recycle rather than just talking about it. It’s a little bit more fun. Our goal for this year is we’re building a school-safe machine for kids to use in a maker space. They can recycle their own plastic waste and turn it back into something precious, whether it be 3D printing or moulds. That’s the aim for this year.” Further information about Precious Plastic, can be located at plastic.org



The future of face masks Team Polair

A team of 24 undergraduate biomedical students from John Hopkins University were recently awarded the Future Forward Award and $250 000 in the XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge. The aim of the NextGen Mask Challenge was to reimagine protective face masks used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by making them more comfortable, functional, accessible and stylish (xprize.org). Team Polair won the Future Forward award for their modular design which enables users to swap out mask bodies and choose a filter based on their environment’ (xprize.org). STEM Punks spoke with Team Polair members Nina Tedeschi and Jerry Zhang. Nina explained her interest in STEM. “My mum’s an engineer and I met some people really interested in the healthcare space. So, I majored in biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering. This is one of the first projects at college that really allowed me to break out of the space and just do things independently and build something that has a real impact.” Jerry explained the innovative origin of the mask design. “In our brainstorming sessions, we realised that no single mask can meet everyone’s needs. So, we designed one standard frame that attaches to your face. It’s very comfortable, but on top of the frame, you can have whatever option you want.” The brainstorming sessions were then followed by a deeper analysis of the underlying problem. Jerry continued, “in front of that, you have your design criteria. From that we used CAD software to create the virtual design and then we used 3D printing to model it. We were fortunate enough to partner with Honeywell, one of the large manufacturers, to have them professionally fabricate it.”

Team Polair’s modular design enables user to swap out mask bodies and choose a filter based on their environment.

First, ensure that you enjoy everything that you do. I’ve learned that time is so finite and there’s only a certain number of things you can do with your time. Make sure it’s something that counts and sits with your values and what you believe in. The other, is to keep challenging yourself. I’ve gone through my schooling and on project after project, I found the most joy in where I haven’t hit the limit and where I’ve kept pushing past, whatever I was told was the boundary and seeing things in a new light as a result. I feel the greatest point of where you can learn, not just about the world but about yourself, are those points where you are challenged and really pushing yourself to the limits to create something novel, new and exciting.” Jerry agreed with Nina’s advice and added, “when you pick up your projects, when you pick what you want to do in college and beyond, I think it’s very much about understanding who you are, what you like and what you don’t like.” More information about Team Polair and their mask design can be located at https://teampolair.com

What advice would Nina give her younger self? Nina responded, “I’d have to say, it’s a two-fold thing. MAY 2021


STEM workshop


Sachem Public Library Long Island, New York This month, STEM Punks was delighted to be taken on a virtual tour of the awesome makerspaces that have been created at the Sachem Public Library, which is located in Suffolk County on Long Island in the state of New York. Librarian and Head of the Studio Department Makerspace, Christopher DeCristofaro spoke with us and provided an inspiring virtual tour. Christopher explained that the library is divided into collaborative departments that include the Children’s Department, Teen Department, Studio Department (for adults) and the Outdoor Department. In the Main Space area, Christopher showed an Epson SureColor P7000 that is able to print colour posters. The printer is mainly used for printing large posters for publicity and community purposes. He explained, “we recently did a project for the cub scouts and we did a project for the school district where we printed posters of each one of the seniors’ football players dressed in their uniforms holding their helmets. We did some graphic work where we put their names on it and then they hung them along the fence, on the field, for their homecoming. We give back to the community.” Christopher introduced the Czech made, Prusa 3D printers. “These printers are absolutely amazing. We have 12 throughout the whole building and they are just absolute workhorses, they’re monsters and they’re super affordable. We do all kinds of cool projects. There’s a coral reef project that we’re helping with. From what I understand, it’s a national project that the schools are now involved with and they’re sending these 3D printed corals to Mexico to build a coral reef. That’s just one of the projects that we’re working on.” The Studio Department also has both filament and liquid resin 3D printers and scanners, a Carvey CNC machine, a laser engraver/cutter, digital microscope, green screen technology and video preservation area. Sachem Library also has its own fully equipped and sound proofed recording studio, called ‘The Booth.’ Christopher explained that prior to the pandemic, there were about 10 podcasters, including Christopher, who were podcasting from this recording studio. Christopher said, “we’ve actually brought some of this recording equipment down to one of our community rooms for a guy who was trying out for the United States Airforce Band to play trumpet. We did the recordings for him. The best part is that you can record to a laptop or an IPad and you’re good to go. If you don’t have that, we can supply that too. When they’re done, we can give them the files. So, that’s kind of cool too.”

that is filled with hand tools, hammers, screwdrivers, socket wrenches and things that kids don’t usually play with nowadays. We have carpentry projects, and we have pegboards that have all kinds of nuts and bolts, screws and things. The kids can literally jump on top of the pegboard and use a socket or crescent wrench. We also have tech tubs, so if you want to get trains out for the kids you give your library card and you can get the set of trains for them or they can code with Ozobots.” The outdoor children’s classroom is called Discovery Grove. Christopher explained, “that area has all kinds of things like a digging area, a water area and a painting area. it’s a place where in the spring and summer we do a garden buddies where we teach kids about gardening. We produce a ton of food that goes to local soup kitchens.” Christopher described the outdoor Halloween themed events that the library runs during the evening for families, and also a winter wonderland garden of lights which are very popular with the local community. Christopher summarised the library’s approach, “when kids are little, they come to the library with their parents and then they age out of the Children’s Department and move into the Teen Department. What happens when they turn 18 and they graduate from high school? Nine times out of ten, the kids don’t come back because what’s there for them? So, the concept that we have here is to start the kids when they’re kids doing 3D printing and robotics, then they transition into the Teen Department and they continue to learn whether it’s directed or self-directed. If they’re kids and they’re into doing that kind of stuff, what happens is when they transition out, they’re not thrown out into the cold. They can now come and play with the stuff that we have in the Adult Department (The Studio) which is basically a bulked-up version of what you see in the Teen Department. So, maybe you learned about Adobe Illustrator when you were in Teens, now you can use Adobe Illustrator with the laser engraver. That’s how we are retaining our 20 somethings.”

In addition to the adult maker spaces, children have their own maker spaces located within and outside of the library. Christopher said, “we do a lot of electronics, but we also do some very low-tech stuff. We have this cabinet, MAY 2021


Classroom Air Quality UQ Study Fresh

STEM Punks was excited to visit the University of Queensland (UQ) to speak with members of the Study Fresh Project Team. Dr Stephen Snow is the team leader of the Study Fresh Project and explained that the project was a UQ initiative and made possible through funding from the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist. The purpose of the Study Fresh Project is to improve the capacity of Queensland students to thrive at school by gathering data on the indoor air quality of classrooms. Stephen explained, “There can be issues of inadequate ventilation where Carbon Dioxide (CO2) rises from people breathing out and CO2 is a really good indicator of the likely presence of other indoor air pollutants. The reason we have to care about indoor air quality is because poor indoor air quality and poor ventilation leads to lower cognitive performance and lower performance at sustained attention tasks. It’s been correlated to poor academic performance and so it’s quite a big issue, just nobody’s measuring it.” The Study Fresh Project actively collaborates with QLD schools, to engage students as citizen scientists, to measure their school classroom’s air quality. Stephen continued, “we’ve got two options. We can deploy these Study Fresh loggers into classrooms. They (students) monitor CO2



at minute intervals and upload their data to a CSV file. The second, and arguably more fun part of Study Fresh is the workshop component where schools, if they want to, can bring classes of up to 24 students to do a workshop or at their school, to build one of these things.” Stephen reflected, “this isn’t the type of project that’s just going to be solved by one discipline. We needed a multi-disciplinary team.” Stephen explained that the Study Fresh Team includes a building engineer, civil engineer, electronics engineers, behavioural scientists, computer vision and IT specialists. Dr Marie Boden works at the UQ School of Electrical Engineering and is a part of the Study Fresh Team. Marie spoke with STEM Punks, “what we are trying to understand is what the indoor air quality does to our students and people who are working and studying indoors. What do we need to do in the future? How do we need to build our buildings and how can we actually make sure that we have really fresh, good air? Dr Boden spoke about her role, “I work a lot with outreach activities and together with teachers, I am really interested in how we can use technology to make our education even better than it is.” Rohith Nunna is the lead engineer for the Study Fresh Project. “My job is to make these little boards and also get kids excited about programming and about indoor air quality. Rohith continued, “my first task was to build this little mini unit. Once I got a system working, it was just a matter of prototyping in a couple of weeks. I managed to get a little board working and integrated all of these components together. It took a lot of testing, but we got there, and it works perfectly. That’s a great thing but we really want to get kids excited and be proactive about indoor air quality within classrooms. That’s where the workshop comes in. With this prototype, we scaled it back to the very fast prototype that I made, and we turned it into a workshop. Kids at the moment are building the very first prototype that our engineer made when we were designing this project. With the help of Marie and the team, we made sure that we turned it into a workshop. Hopefully, the kids will be proactive about it and work with these loggers and help improve their classrooms so that it’s a better working environment for them.” Dr Snow concluded, “I guess my vision for Study Fresh is twofold. Firstly, I’d love to know what environment students are learning in and we can measure it with Study Fresh. I’d love to make that bigger. I’d love to put one of these in every school, if we can.” Study Fresh is a UQ initiative made possible through funding from the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist. Like to be involved? Email Dr Snow at s.snow@uq.edu.au MAY 2021



Design in Schools

Mandi Dimitriades

Experienced educator Mandi Dimitriadis held a variety of teaching and curriculum development roles throughout her twenty-seven years with the South Australian Department of Education. In an interview with STEM Punks, Mandi reflected, “what I really love about teaching is being able to make a difference to help young people to learn and to be the best version of themselves that they can be.” Currently, Mandi is the Director of Learning for Makers Empire, an online 3D modelling computer program. It was developed to give teachers the tools, skills and resources to teach 4-13 year old students Design Thinking and engage them in STEM learning via 3D design and 3D printing. Mandi said, “I’m able to use technology and I have a much broader scope than I ever did before. I get to influence the experience of teachers and students in countries all around the world.” Makers Empire uses the Stanford Design Thinking Framework. Mandi explained that this model


starts with empathy and she considers that this is particularly relevant to engaging girls in STEM. “It’s all about helping others and solving problems. Starting with empathy is thinking about not your own point of view or how you experience the world, it’s actually about putting yourself in the shoes of others and experiencing the problems, the way others experienced certain situations.” Mandi also loves that Design Thinking encourages students to fail so that students can find better solutions. “It’s important to persist and be resilient and to have that mindset about learning. I love that Design Thinking actually expects that.” Mandi spoke about the role of technology and the importance of students to be familiar with and understanding of its capabilities. “We need our young people to be adaptable, flexible, to have creative confidence that they know they’ve got the tools and skills and other people to work with to solve whatever problems they come across. It’s not just the technology, it’s about how you use it.”



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