Bright Box has been making Sheffield a more exciting place to be a kid since 2017. If you’re between the ages of 7 and 11 – or spend much time with people who are – you’re likely to have come across its Chief Tinkerer Kisha Bradley and her mobile makerspace over the past couple of years. Loaded up with a bunch of drills, handsaws, battery packs, electric paint, LEDs, sensors, motors, plus lots of cardboard and scissors, Kisha’s been appearing at libraries, galleries, markets and festivals across the city, tooling up young people to explore the world through play. In March 2019 she found a place to set down her toolboxes and build a home for Bright Box in the city centre.
Kisha’s mission with Bright Box is to enable children to test out new ideas and to get creative with science, tech, engineering and maths. And the same goes for the workshops she runs with adults – “even people in my generation, millennials, I dare say there’s a lot of tech that’s scary to them. If you think about all the new tech that kids are learning in schools today, we might end up so far removed from that that we’ll be put out of job markets if we’re not flexible enough to learn as we go,” she says. “I’m just trying to give people that bit more confidence to play, have fun with it, and don’t be scared off by things.”
The Makerspace is the embodiment of the creative and curious Bright Box spirit – all bright colours and starry scenes (thanks to murals by the artist Zoe Genders), with drill art on the walls, intriguing contraptions lining the shelves, and overflowing drawers that beg you to have a good rummage. All the materials are carefully chosen but none are labelled – as Kisha explains: “I want to encourage people to be nosy and to feel like it’s theirs, like they can just open drawers and break things and not have to apologise.” Workshops are a mixture of low- and high-tech stuff, “that means cardboard and computers and everything in between.”