Hack The Future (HtF) offers kids a free one-day learning extravaganza on hardware and software technologies. Before TriV co-founder, Alex Freitas, left Hack The Future 9 held at The Tech in San Jose August 2013, he already knew he wanted to attend the next HtF event. So, what could be better than a carefree day playing with different technologies until your heart’s content? Sharing the experience with more friends!
After meeting with Lee Jouthas from the Dublin Library, Lee was as excited as we were to bring a HtF event to Dublin. Working with Joe Mathes, Al Alcorn, Jonathan Hull, and Eric Allen from HtF to settle on the necessary details, Hack The Future 10 was set for Saturday, January 11, 2014. from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm — a whole day of action-packed fun! TriValley CoderDojo members were invited to pre-register. Lee also secured sponsorship for Hack The Future 10 (HtF10) from Friends of the Dublin Library which provided for event expenses, including lunch.
Lunch was prepared by Gaels Catering, a student-run catering business, taught by Jackie Lawson, that meets every day for one period at Dublin High School. All profits from the business go back to the program to professionally clean the catering facility, pay for commercial dishwashing chemicals, new and replacement plates, bowls, pans, and other supplies. Gaels Catering staff delivered the spread promptly and professionally, smartly dressed in fitted catering uniforms. The lunch menu included a variety of items neatly arranged in a pleasing array to tempt the taste buds of busy hackers:
- Three types of sandwich wraps: 1) roasted chicken breast with pesto, monterey jack cheese, lettuce and tomato; 2) meat lovers with ham, dry Italian salami, herb cream cheese, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and tomato; and 3) vegetarian with herb cream cheese, cheddar and monterey jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and sliced peppers
- Pitted black olives
- Fresh fruit berry medley of strawberries and blueberries
- Crisp cut carrot and celery sticks with ranch dressing dip
- Assorted of bags of chips
- Three flavors of sweet bread loaves
- Oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies, and
- Bottled drinking water
The meal was healthy and satisfying. Parents could feel confident that their kids were filling up on great things for both mind and body!
3. Minecraft Mods
5. Scientific Computing
6. Raspberry Pi
8. Developing Websites
9. Unity 3D
10. Sketchup and 3D Printing
12. Python and Pygame
A description for each station is listed below. Where possible, links to the direct website or activity are provided. Otherwise, links to websites that provided more information on the topic or similar activity are given. More pictures of HtF10 can be viewed in our HtF10 Photo Gallery. Many TriV members attended and helped as volunteers both mentoring and organizing.
LightUp enables kids to build and understand their own electronics projects by combining an electronics construction kit with an interactive augmented-reality tutor that runs as an app on mobile devices. At HtF10, kids built electronics circuits by snapping together magnetic blocks from the LightUp Mini Kit and then tried out the LightUp mobile app, which overlaid guidance and animations onto the photos the kids took of their circuits. The mobile app can play animations laid over their circuits to show kids how the electricity is flowing through their circuit or help them catch a mistake, for instance if their LED was backwards. “It was great to watch several kids building a circuit for the first time, and in the process learn how LEDs, light sensors, and variable resistors work!” – LightUp station mentor, Josh Chan.
A design notebook is a way for a designer or engineer to keep a history of his or her design project from start to finish. Design notebooks can contain notes, drawings/sketches, lists, photos, and questions to consider. Kids at this station were given supplies and encouragement to draw web design user interfaces or other project ideas.
Minecraft is a popular sandbox game where players can create anything they can imagine in virtual worlds. Programmers can make modifications to the game to create new entities or functions by modifying existing code or creating their own “Mods” or modifications to the program. One favorite mod kids learned at the minecraft mod station was how to program chickens to lay diamonds!
The soldering station provided attendees an opportunity to learn about basic electronics circuitry by creating a circuit for a blinking LED by soldering onto a circuit board a battery holder, four resistors, two capacitors, two transistors, a switch, and a
light-emitting diode, for a total of 26 solder joints. Then they got to take it home with them! It was a fun way to learn about electronics and experiment with basic circuit analysis using an oscilloscope.
This station led attendees through discussions on scientific implications that could be charted through computational means, e.g. a simulation of a nuclear reactor. Other popular topics included discussions on time travel, space craft, and how to hack java programs. Dr. Who fans were welcome; some wore their own fez hat!
The Raspberry Pi is a low-cost credit-card sized computer that can be plugged into to a computer monitor or TV, connected to wired or wireless networks, uses a standard keyboard and mouse, and enables people of all ages to explore computing and learn how to program with languages such as Python and Scratch.
Robocode is an open source educational game that helps people learn to program in Java or, starting in version 1.7.2, .NET Framework programming languages (C#,VB.NET, etc.). A simple robot can be written in just a few minutes – but perfecting a bot can take months. Programmers develop code that play out tank battle strategies that they test against other players in a tank arena.
Attendees learned basic HTML and CSS to create their own web pages. Kids created web pages on their favorite topics; one attendee developed and did a lightning talk presentation on his passion on his web page…potatoes!
Unity is a cross-platform game engine with a built-in IDE developed by Unity Technologies. It is used to develop video games for web plugins, desktop platforms, consoles and mobile devices. The software also has impressive graphics and physics engines for the ultimate fun in game development. Kids used Unity to create their own 3D games that they could share with family and friends!
This station enabled kids to create their own 3D objects using the 3D drawing program, SketchUp, and then they could print the object and take it home. Kids were able to share what they created during the lightning talks at the end of the event.
Arduino is an open source electronics prototyping platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It can be used stand alone or it can communicate with software running on a computer. It is great for creating interactive objects or environments. Arduino can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators.
Python is a widely used, high-level programming language that emphasizes readability and can be used for a variety of purposes, including web programming, graphical user interface development, scientific applications, software development, and system administration. Pygame is a cross-platform set of Python modules designed for writing video games. It includes computer graphics and sound libraries designed to be used with the Python programming language.
TurtleBot is a low-cost, personal robot kit with open-source software. With TurtleBot, you can build a robot that can drive around your house, see in 3D, and have enough horsepower to create exciting applications.
HtF10 is the first event of its kind held in the East Bay and we’re grateful for The Friends generous support. The Friends made it possible to bring this enriching experience to a whole community of kids who had not even heard of Hack The Future before or had exposure to the technologies presented. The next HtF in Dublin is scheduled for this fall, August 2014. Check back at the Hack The Future website for upcoming events and details!