Tinker Teen: Nishant Verma!

Hey everyone! I hope you’re having a good start to the year!

I had the privilege of interviewing a teen who tinkers with great zeal, interesting results and immense enjoyment!

The teen in question – Nishant Verma, is an 18-year-old student from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) who participated as a maker at the first Singapore Mini Maker Faire Education Day at University Town (National University of Singapore) in July last year with other student makers.

Here’s the lowdown on the interview:

nishant_small1. Were there any influences in your childhood which led you to start tinkering?

“I would say it all started when I was six. I had this balsa wood airplane powered by a rubber propeller. It came with an electric winder to wind the propeller – a simple motor with a counter. Most unfortunately, the plane got crushed by the ginormous foot of an unidentified giant. So all I was left with was the winder. My father must have seen me distraught. He sat down with me and we took the winder apart with a saw and screwdriver. We then rewired it and soldered it, turning it into a table fan with the plane’s propeller as the fan blade. Since then I have been taking part every electronic device I could get my hands on. Television, microwaves, air-conditioning systems, telephones, and printers… nothing has been spared!”

2. What sort of kid were you? As an adult, what are you into now?

“I was a curious kid and investigative kid. I used to and still love exploring and trying something new! I think a lot… I think!”

3. Who are the people that influence you?

“My Father. The other people who influence me the most are those that are truly passionate about what they do and make what they do special. They do what they do because they love it. Steve jobs, Ed Sheeran, Kurt hugo Schneider, our local garbage collector! Their passion and sincerity shows in their work.”

4. What do you feel is most important to kids today?

“What is most important to them? I’m not sure! But it’s important that they are unafraid to fall down and get up to try again when they fail!”

5. What challenges have you had to overcome personally to advance your interests in tinkering?

“Cost can be seen as a challenge, or unavailability of material. But I love to think of work-arounds. I love being told, ‘This or that material won’t be made available to you.’ It prompts me to make do with the resources I have and come up with substitutes. I try then to envision the objects around us to operate in a different way and make it happen.”

From left (standing) – Yun Da, Nishant, and Gabriel (Organisers of DeCONSTRUCT)
From left (standing) – Yun Da, Nishant, and Gabriel (Organisers of DeCONSTRUCT)

6. Name one particular achievement that you’re proud of.

“Initiating DeCONSTRUCT! A three-day hardware hacking competition at the Singapore Science Center. Participants took apart old electronic devices and made something new of the pieces. We had a musical spark gap, a 3D scanner, an automatic guitar strummer, an automatic jam spreader, and more! I wanted to show the participants the applicability of what we learn in math and science class and to get them excited! One participant wrote to me after the event, “It’s such an eye opener for me. I never liked Physics although I’ve been studying it for 9 years. It is only today that I realise how wide is its applicability and how far your imagination can stretch. I will re-approach Physics from a new perspective now”. I smiled 🙂

7. What has been the toughest challenge in your pursuit so far?

“No particular instance comes to mind. It would be nice to have tinkering as a more officially recognised activity so that more kids could spend time on it. But that takes out the fun of self-discovery. So, no complaints!”

8. Are there particular skills or values that you learnt during your schooling years which you apply today in tinkering?

“Definitely! School lessons – all the way from science and math classes (technical) to art (design) and English (sharing what you make). We are given ‘tons of rock’ in school. It’s up to us if we want to find ‘diamonds in it’. What I also apply today are values – learnt during schooling years, but not necessarily in school – which include a can-do attitude, resourcefulness and team work!”

1_small9. Are there any mottos that you live by?

“‘Yes, we can!’ ‘The best is yet to be.’” (ACS School Motto)

10. Looking back, if you could change your history, what would you change and why?

“Nothing. Our actions are complexly intertwined. The effect of a small change somewhere would catastrophically change the present day me.”

11. What advice would you give to aspiring tinkerers?

“Keep making! Do it with all passion and sincerity– whatever you’re into – tinkering, dancing, video gaming or whatever else.”

What a cool lad! Well, if you’re inspired or intrigued by Nishant, why not try your hand at tinkering? Check out the Singapore Maker Faire facebook or website now! Also, don’t miss the Singapore Maker Faire in July 2015 which will feature yet another interesting line-up of makers!

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