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Today's Makers, Tomorrow's Engineers

A look at Hacker Scouts, a program that teaches kids skills for a new technological era.

April 02 , 2013

Ever had a big idea, but you just weren't sure how to make it a reality? Hacker Scouts is giving kids a chance to build their dream project, and a road map for getting there. You may have heard of STEM education. Hacker Scouts adds art into the mix. It's all about STEAM education here.

Volunteers with a variety of skills and expertise guide the scouts through the creative and hands-on process. Kids use circuits, laser cutters and sewing machines.  They earn different badges as they go along, and eventually they work on a project that puts all the new skills to use.

The first Hacker Scouts guild formed in Oakland, California, but the idea has gained so much interest, other guilds are setting up around the country.



I like making things.

Hacker Scouts is a program that allows kids to become leaders and innovators in a new technological era.

A couple days ago at Hacker Scouts open lab I made this watch.

I'm Erica Claus, and I'm here with my son Charlie who is a hacker scout. Charlie and a lot of the kids that we know are just obsessed with tech stuff and they want to build and make circuits and it's hard to find people who can mentor them in that kind of stuff.

My name is Samantha Matalone Cook, and I am the executive director and cofounder of Hacker Scouts. We focus on STEAM education and skill building for kids. STEAM is actually adding art into the mix. It's science, technology, engineering, art and math.

What our scouts tonight have been working on is called the hackerling circuit.

The hackerling circuit is a microcomputer that can do whatever you program it to do.

I finished the design for my enclosure on the computer so I was just printing it on the laser cutter.

When they build it, they are not only learning circuits, they're learning soldering, they're learning about LED's, they're learning how to program it, they're using the laser cutter to build an enclosure, and they're using a sewing machine to build a pouch. They all end up with this tool that then they can use in other projects.

Once they finish that, they will move on to working on badges that they choose.

I'm helping my brother fix his hackerling circuit. I like to mentor. The coolest thing, would probably be a tesla coil. I have two that output one foot long bolts of lightning and one of them is audio modulated, and that by far is the coolest thing.

The reaction we've gotten has been wildly enthusiastic. A lot of parents tell us that this is the highlight of the kids' week.

I learned we are more powerful together and that children really do learn best by making and doing.

I just like all the cool things you can make and you can get all the awesome badges and stuff.

Related Tags: Innovation

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