The industrial revolution that is currently sweeping the world at an unprecedented pace and scale offers limitless opportunities if we’re prepared to reach out and grasp them. The story of one of my young constituents, 16-year-old Zachary Igielman, exemplifies the powerful role that Jewish education and youth movements can play in helping the young digital natives of today to become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
Zach has a passion for technology and this summer he met 17-year-old Jake Blumenow from Liverpool while they were both on tour in Israel with JLGB. While visiting the Google offices in Tel Aviv and then, a week later, visiting the Google Campus in London, they found that their shared interest in technology quickly developed into brainstorming ideas for new inventions and business ideas.
Their latest business idea, MakeTronix, aims to help young people understand how the technological world around us works, with the aim of helping them to create and modify their own technology. Their first product is the MakeTronix Alarm, a nicely-packaged piece of kit that allows people to create their own alarm. Using Raspberry Pi – a credit-card-sized, single-board affordable computer – the kit comes complete with a circuit board, tutorials and lesson plans, making it ideal for young people to teach themselves how to program and create the device, or for teachers to use in schools.
These entrepreneurial teens have not only designed the technology and gained approval from the Raspberry Pi community, they’ve also had the prototype produced in China and are now crowd funding the £1,200 needed to manufacture the product for market. Zach’s school, Kantor King Solomon High School in Barkingside, clearly sees the potential of its student and the educational value of his product, as it has expressed interest negotiating an investment deal!
I’d strongly encourage Jewish News readers to visit maketronix.co.uk and join me in supporting Jake and Zach in their crowdfunding initiative, but there are wider lessons to learn.
The first is the powerful role that JLGB has played in bringing Jake and Zach together and exposing them to the vibrant tech industries of both the UK and Israel.
The second is the supportive role being played by schools like Kantor King Solomon in nurturing the talents and interests of their students.
The third is the central lesson that Zach and Jake are trying to teach everyone: that technology will shape this century and it is absolutely critical that people understand how to harness, adapt and create it. That’s why I believe that computer science should become the UK’s fourth core science.
The challenge is to make sure we are able to create for every young person the support network surrounding Jake and Zach’s experience through JLGB, through their exposure to the tech industry in the UK and Israel and through their supportive schooling.
In the meantime, the least we can all do is put our hands in our pockets to help Zach and Jake to realise the potential of their business idea. I have a feeling these boys are going places.