[hackerspaces] Hackerspaces for Kids

Stephan Mann tokei at cccmz.de
Wed Apr 8 22:13:00 CEST 2009

On Wed, 2009-04-08 at 14:12 -0400, David Powell wrote:
> One of the goals that I would like to achieve with Harford Hackerspace
> is to create a fun learning experience for kids much like Boy Scouts,
> Girl Scouts, or Summer Camp but with the focus on Science and
> Electronics.
> I would like to hear some ideas from you guys about how I can learn
> about what excites kids when it comes to Electronics. I've tried teach
> my own kids in the past and they did not seem to interested. My guess
> is that I was trying to teach them too much too fast and I took all
> the fun right out of it.

At the CCC Mainz, we have six Lego Mindstorm¹ sets and use them to offer
holiday courses for twelve children aged between 12 and 15. We do this
three times a year, one week each. The courses are always booked up.

We have been doing this for three years now and our experience is, that
ten of the twelve children just "serve their time" (since they were send
there by their parents) while two of them are very interested and start
building things we would have never come up with or didn't thought
possible with the restricted possibilities offered by the Mindstorm

Watching this we have repeatedly considered the idea of offering an
advanced course which would cover building your own sensors for the
Mindstorm robots. This of course would then cover introduction into
electronics and soldering. Another idea is to build advanced robots with
some kind of µC. But since our time is finite, we have not yet started
with this project.

What I'm trying to tell you is that whenever I have tried to explain
something to a child starting with the basics, I failed miserably. But
providing them with a framework they can understand and apply in a week
to achieve impressive results sparks interest and creativity /and/ works
as a filter to find those who might be worth the effort. 

Ok, that is not so much of an idea, but you seem to have plenty of
those. Just our experience with a somewhat alike project.


¹ Lego sets to build and program robots
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