Wilja Jurg and Paula Hulleman on the Maakroute Twente programme

With the Open Call Platforms for design-based learning, the Creative Industries Fund NL is supporting 14 platforms in 2023 that focus on the talent development of young people. One of the selected applicants is Tetem in Enschede, which challenges the region’s youth with Maakroute Twente to explore what maker and digital culture and digital storytelling can do for them. The central question in the process: where can I get what I need?

discovering and making

Tetem, which is located in the former Twentse Textiel Maatschappij textile factory, is an investigative presentation platform that tells the story of a constantly evolving society. Digital culture and maker culture play a prominent role in the programming. Education is one of the core missions of the Enschede platform. The concepts of being amazed, exploring and creating are the colours of the threads in the many-hued and meaningful educational blanket. The halls that used to produce blankets now house Het Lab’s spaces, which contain an embroidery machine, plotters, a laser cutter, a vacuum forming machine, a heat press, sewing machines and a 3D filament and a 3D resin printer. In Tetem’s reception hall there is also an art dispenser with ‘make-it kits’ behind hatches on sale for a modest price that can be used, for example, to make a solar-powered car. All this makes the Tetem building a sort of confectionery shop where young people from Twente can discover which technology grabs their interest.

It is often experiences that change lives.

keyboard for gaming

For instance, Sjoerd (13) from Hengelo and Jayden (15) from Borne, who came to Enschede almost every Sunday for six months to take part in 4Talent, the Maakroute Twente pilot. Under the guidance of a lab coach, they developed a sustainably made keyboard for gaming. Paula Hulleman, Education and Platform senior programme officer at Tetem, explains: ‘They made several prototypes and got acquainted withh different techniques while doing so. Ultimately, they opted for production with the 3D printer. For the packaging for the keyboard, they used the vacuum forming machine.’

Sjoerd: ‘It was fun to develop our idea, and we had a goal. The lab coach was kind and gave us the freedom to explore on our own.’ Jayden adds: ‘It was interesting to work with all sorts of machines and materials. To see what succeeded and what didn’t. Very different from school, where you have less room to experiment. Another thing I have learned through this project is planning, which I found quite difficult before.’

Paula shows the video in which the boys enthusiastically promote their product. The video was made in front of a green screen in the photography and film studio upstairs in Tetem’s building. Paula: ‘Along the way, it turned out that Jayden was very much on the engineering and 3D design side and Sjoerd was pulling more towards the entrepreneurial side, such as coming up with the company name and promotion. So we empowered them both, ensuring that they discussed and exchanged ideas with each other. Jayden shared the information about the technology needed for the promotion with Sjoerd.'

It was fun to develop our idea, and we had a goal.

immense drive

Wilja Jurg, director of Tetem: ‘We have done a number of trajectories like this. For instance, there was a participant who wanted to learn 3D printing in chocolate, to design better cakes. And someone who wanted to learn how to make paint from natural materials to dye fabrics with. There were also many trajectories in which learning to make films was the goal.’

Inspired: ‘We want young people to discover and consider for themselves what technology, culture and design can mean for them. They have an immense drive to do well. And through that drive, of course, things often go wrong. That’s all part of it. In our guidance where ‘guide at the side’ is the basic principle we also include a little human development. We make sure participants build a foundation where they have confidence in themselves, the technology, the people around them and the structure. We want to let them experience success. The feeling of: we are succeeding, we are making the world a better place. It is often experiences that change lives.’

fab labs

In 2019, Tetem became a pilot site for the Stedelijke Cultuur Regio. Wilja: ‘This gave our organization a boost, and we started working with educational programmes in Twente municipalities. A few years ago, however, we observed that the educational line was stalling after primary-school education. We found it difficult to attract secondary-school students from outside Enschede. That is why we started with the mobile labs: equipped with digital and non-digital techniques for design-based learning that we took to youth centres and schools, for example.’

Wilja continues: ‘We now have a permanent fab lab in the library of 14 municipalities, where there is a sewing and embroidery machine, a plotter, heat press, vacuum forming machine, laser cutter, foam cutter, 3D pens, a 3D scanner and 3D printers. The idea behind this is that if we manage to keep young people in these fab labs, it will create a community that is skilled in maker and digital culture.'

At school you have less room to experiment’.

building a learning ecosystem

Whereas the fab labs are focused on maker and digital culture, the focus of Maakroute Twente is on digital storytelling. Wilja: ‘At Maakroute Twente, there are eight trajectories with four makers, which focus on developing scenarios for the future. For example, there are master classes with Helen van Rees, who talks more about ‘wearables’ and the interactive textile industry. Another maker, Louisa Teichman, lets participants tell a story by using an escape room and solving a digital puzzle.

Paula: ‘After a teaser project at school, young people can sign up for one of these Maakroute Twente master classes.So we don’t select, they choose to participate themselves.’

Wilja: ‘Actually, Maakroute Twente is more of a programme than a project. We are building a learning ecosystem, where we take young people from inside school to structural education outside school.’

Paula: ‘It is very important that you know how to make connections locally. So that what you offer also connects and is received. That it is durable.’

We can only achieve something if we do it together.

Wilja: ‘We are now busy building lasting relationships in the 14 municipalities, for example with welfare workers from youth organizations. ‘In Twente, we realize that we can only achieve something if we do it together.’ Together with all our partners, we are currently working hard to inform young people about all the projects. And to find the right place for them, where they can develop their talents. This may be in a different municipality from where they live. That’s where the name Maakroute Twente comes from. We let young people find the route: where can I get what I need?’

Text: Iris Stam
Photos: Mark Bolk