Dr Kirsten Ellis and Hashini Senaratne

Award category: Environment and Culture

Engaging with disability organisations in the community to make electronic-making and STEM engagement activities more accessible to underrepresented people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

During 2020 National Science Week, Kirsten and Hashini created ‘maker kits’ that were distributed to people with disabilities so they could participate.

Each activity was specifically designed to its target user, with every kit containing all required materials and an online tutorial. They were distributed through organisations supporting people living with a disability in their homes and residential care facilities.

The kits ranged from premade TapeBlocks that offered an accessible circuit making activity using foam blocks and conductive tape to light-up boxes which provided a simple solution to illuminating laser cuts.

Kirsten and Hashini are also working on creating an accessible electronic toolkit called TronicBoards that can be used to design custom devices that solve users’ own real-world problems.

Their work strongly reflects our faculty’s mission ‘IT for Social Good’, engaging with the broader community to foster inclusion and support for underrepresented, disadvantaged and marginalised groups. It also helps to create a more vibrant, inclusive and collaborative culture.