By Jon Kalish
Countless kids have grown up with the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts or Campfire Girls, but for some families, the uniforms and outdoor focus of traditional Scouting groups don’t appeal.
In recent months, Scout like groups that concentrate on technology and do-it-yourself projects have been sprouting up around the country. They’re coed and, like traditional Scouting organizations, award patches to kids who master skills.
Ace Monster Toys is a hacker space in Oakland, Calif., where members share high-tech tools. Normally, grown-ups congregate there, working on electronics or woodworking projects. But two Sundays a month, the place is overrun by 50 kids and their parents for the gatherings of a group called Hacker Scouts.
The kids in Hacker Scouts are not breaking into computer networks. They make things with their hands, and at this particular meeting they are learning to solder and are building “judobots,” small robots made out of wooden Popsicle sticks.
“It’s old enough where they’re ready to start developing skills, [but] they’re not so old that they’ve already been set in their ways”
“I’ve been sewing on little felt pieces with this,” Davis explains. “The battery will power the LEDs and light up. It’s pretty cool.”
Crafting, Computers And The Physical World
Chris Cook, one of the parents active in organizing the Hacker Scouts, serves as president of the hacker space where the Scouts meet. He says the group has expressly targeted kids between the ages of 8 to 14.
“It’s old enough where they’re ready to start developing skills, [but] they’re not so old that they’ve already been set in their ways,” Cook says, “and they’re more interested in what their peer groups are doing.”
“So, we felt it’s the right kind of time to expose them to how to craft with their hands — how to take things from a computer and put them into the physical world,” Cook says. Continue reading