For most 13 year olds, weekends are reserved for sports, video games, and hanging out with friends, but not so for Michael Nixon, the teen founder of EduKits.
Passionate about electronics and the rise of 3D printing, Nixon was dedicated to finding resources to teach himself about these new technologies. He eventually realised that he was spending a lot of time seeking out these hard-to-find resources and that there should be a better way.
“Not everyone’s got as much spare time as me, so I thought that maybe I could make things a lot easier and try to get more kids involved,” he said.
This thought led to the development of EduKits, an ecommerce platform helping kids and their parents or teachers find and buy 3D printers, electronic kits, and the related educational resources.
Like he taught himself about 3D printing and electronics, in setting up the online platform Nixon decided to teach himself how to code – and went old school.
“Our internet wasn’t fast enough to find sites where I could learn to code, so I just borrowed books from the local and TAFE library,” he said.
“That was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve done, but it’s taught me probably better than any way I could’ve learned online.”
Identifying schools as a key target market, Nixon has been pitching EduKits and the importance of developing STEM skills at primary and high schools around the Riverina area.
Interestingly, Nixon’s young age has been both a blessing and a curse: a pro at primary schools, but a con when pitching high schools.
“You may think teachers wouldn’t take me seriously, but it’s surprising, primary school teachers do listen to me a bit more because I’m actually around their students’ age and have a bit more knowledge because of that. Teachers are very, very far out of primary school, which can be one of the biggest problems,” Nixon explained.
“There aren’t many primary schools around here with 3D printers or teaching electronics and programming, so teachers look at me and think, ‘wait, he was in primary school three years ago’, and that helps, it gives me a bit of knowledge.”
On the other hand, pitching at high schools is, at the moment at least, harder for Nixon as the majority of students are older than him and it’s more difficult for him to be seen as a subject matter expert.
“I think that’s down to the fact that as a student, you’re expected to know less than the teacher about that chosen subject, even though that very much can’t be the case with this at many schools, where you’ve got a woodwork teacher teaching 3D printing because they can’t get anyone else onto it,” Nixon said.
Nixon last year pitched at – and won – the very first Regional Pitchfest in Wagga Wagga, a competition he prepared for by treating it just like any other school assignment.
“I answered every question in depth and thought, keep the answer in your slides and ensure there’s not too much text, ensure they address what you’re talking about visually and help the audience make connections without getting bored, all of that,” he explained.
The Australia Post Regional Pitchfest also helped him refine his vision for the business. His goal is to keep growing EduKits through high school and build it into a full-time occupation.
Image: Michael Nixon (Middle). Source. Supplied.