SpaceX Astronaut Sponsors STEAM Co.’s Mission To Mars With Makedo
Heading To Out Of SpaceX
Inspiration4 / John Kraus
STEAM Co. is a non-profit community enterprise organisation co-founded in 2011 by Nick Corston - a Dad, a digital marketeer, artist and qualified engineer. It’s driven by parents, teachers and other creative carers to help all our kids aim higher than high and be powered by creativity.
Over the past decade, STEAM Co. has worked with school communities across the country and is about to launch its most exciting venture yet: A Mission to Mars UK Tour. Bigjigs Toys are helping STEAM Co. on their way into the milky way with our brand new cardboard construction toy, Makedo. Bigjigs Toys have donated Makedo kits to help rocket kids reach for the stars.
Real-Life Rocket Man
Nick Corston with StarShip21 at Godiva Festival
Nick Corston is a man on a mission. A man on a mission to Mars. With cardboard. Nick wants all our kids to aim as high as Elon Musk - a real-life rocket man who inspires rocket kids (and their creative carers) everywhere. Now it’s time for Nick’s Autumn Mission to Mars UK Tour to have lift-off out along the M4 and back down the M1 as it tours the whole of the UK!
A Mission To Mars
A Mission to Mars is a creative experience celebrating art in all its forms for rocket kids, rockstars, dancers, dreamers and their creative carers. This space mission recently took over the Art Town area of Camp Bestival and was inspired by Rocket Men and women such as Elon Musk, Dr Helen Sharman, Sir Elton John, Mary Jackson, Homer Hickam and many more.
Here, busy little hands (and a few big ones) created a MarsScape and built and launched their very own 10-metre long Star Ship made out of cardboard, which was then paraded through the festival! A Mission To Mars is now about to embark on its UK tour...
Out Of This World Cardboard
Nick’s love of cardboard construction has spanned many years (and galaxies). He recently set up a custom cardboard Mars Basecamp and launched a 200ft cardboard rocket out of the playground of a Leeds primary school.
He also built a cardboard Glastonbury Pyramid stage as well as a giant cardboard Coventry Cathedral in the playing field of (you guessed it) a Coventry primary school. Nick is never bored of cardboard (though, he uses a bit of computer code to work his on-screen magic)!
To Infinity And Beyond!
We spoke with Nick about his fantastic intergalactic journey with art (and cardboard) so far...
What inspires you?
I think what inspires me is connecting with inspiring people; people who are creative, who have ideas. But most importantly, people who do exciting and creative things. Artists. I say that art is what we call it when what we do connects us to somebody else. So art can be painting, photography, cooking, coding, dance, design, DJing, fashion or football, robots or rockets - [laughs] we’re going to hear about rockets today!
What is your passion and how did you get started with it?
Well, I’ve always enjoyed making things that weren’t there before - starting with a blank piece of paper or an empty box at the earliest stage. I used to love Blue Peter, I used to love making things from cardboard boxes.
My Grandad had a canning factory in Norfolk and I made a model of that out of toilet rolls and cereal boxes. I painted it and took it over to him. That was one of my first memories of making something with cardboard.
What was most surprising to you about STEAM Co.?
I think it’s the talent, the creativity and the enthusiasm that is latent in every school community at every level. On a STEAM Co. day, one of our creativity days that are run by and with school communities, there’s something for everybody to do. We foster collaboration between the year groups as well.
What was the biggest challenge STEAM Co. faced? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge is connecting with schools as they’re flat out - teachers are so busy and COVID’s put another layer of complexity on the job. Teachers have objectives and so much to cram into the curriculum. Every minute is managed and planned. So how do you get through?
The biggest challenge is also budget - for our time and for us to come in. We’ve been very keen to encourage communities, businesses, and parents to club together.
What’s the next mission for STEAM Co.?
Well, the next mission for STEAM Co. is our BIGGEST ever yet! It’s our Mission to Mars #MissionToMars21. A tour of UK school communities: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Some of the events will be virtual, some of them will be live.
It’s about inspiring our kids to aim not just high, but higher than high by finding their art and empowering their communities to be part of that as well. A lot of parents haven’t been in school communities for a couple of years now due to COVID, so live streaming means they can see what we’re doing.
What’s your top tip for introducing kids to art?
It’s all about helping our kids find their passion. Professor Guy Claxton said to me six or seven years ago that we have to help our kids understand what they want to be great at and help them to follow that dream.
My top tip is to give kids access to the broadest range of experiences possible so that they can find something and tap into it. That’s the role of teachers, that’s the role of parents, and I believe it’s the role of our wider communities - that’s what STEAM Co. is all about.
Cosmic Cardboard Construction
Makedo kits in action
What can I craft with cardboard?
You can craft anything with cardboard - there’s no limit, your imagination is your only limit plus the amount of cardboard you’ve got.
What’s the biggest cardboard creation you’ve made?
It’s got to be Coventry Cathedral, hasn’t it? A cardboard artist built a cardboard picture and we then made the cardboard model from that and built it in computer graphics. We created a film and superimposed it on drone footage of Joseph Cash Primary School in Coventry, so it looks as if the rocket is taking off in their playground!
What’s your favourite cardboard creation you’ve ever made?
My favourite cardboard creation is the Glastonbury Pyramid stage that we built from cardboard and code for a three-day art festival in a school Playground in Somerset. I love Glasto and for once the Pyramid stage was an art gallery to showcase the art of community from across the country.
What toys can I make out of cardboard?
Again, you can make anything. Funnily enough, we launched a Global Cardboard Challenge with BBC Breakfast a few years ago. My son made a football game and it was just two lumps of cardboard, a plastic field and a ping pong ball. He made a game by flicking the ball into the goal. It really was the perfect demonstration of a child’s imagination.
What are your top cardboard crafting tips?
Makedo at a Mission to Mars workshop
The great thing about Makedo is there are no more glue guns. So no more burnt fingers, no electricity trip hazards, no plastic waste. It’s just brilliant and reusable. My top cardboard crafting tip has to be reusability. Reuse what you’ve got and use it again and again and again. That’s why I love Makedo as it lets you do that.
Fancy your chances at making your own impressive cardboard rocket ship? Makedo is our brand new open-ended cardboard construction toy and is designed for little hands to build imaginative and functional creations from repurposed cardboard with safe, reusable kids tools. Stay tuned to see the Mission to Mars UK Tour use Makedo in action.