By Brent Dixon
At the end of June, we partnered with Alpha One Labs to host Hack the City for Kids in New York City. The day - full of messes, sparks, music and microbes - included:
Strawberry DNA extraction, In which our young biohackers created an extraction fluid, added strawberries, and used a highly technical squoosh-it-in-a-sandwich-bag-between-your-fingers method to break down the fruits' cell walls and set the DNA free. After filtering out the liquid from the mush, we used a solvent to cause the DNA, in all of its snotty glory, to precipitate out into clear view.
After extracting the DNA, participants took their sample and examined it (along with plant, water, and other interesting samples) under the CellScope - a Berkeley University-designed tool to turn the camera of a standard cell phone into a diagnostic-quality microscope.
Urban Planner Leemor Chandally helped kids prototype their vision for the city of the future using Legos and materials from around Alpha One Labs.
Kids also spent time using conductive tape and ink, along with LEDs and batteries, creating their own high/low tech works of papercraft electronics.
Plus 3D Printing, MaKey MaKey, and Soldering!
In addition to all of the above children were able to solder their own glowing pins, experience 3D printing, and prototype music and game interfaces using the MaKey MaKey.
It was a wonderful event. Mary, who co-founded Alpha One Labs with her husband Sean and had her own children at the event, had this to say:
" I most enjoyed seeing my kids share their interests with other kids in the hands on maker environment. As a homeschooling mother I am constantly questioning myself-- asking myself if I am doing the best for my children's education. At the Hackidemia event, I felt encouraged in my approach and our way of discovery learning where I could see them interacting with the mentors and other kids so happily.
Thanks to the amazing mentors, our co-hosts Sean and Mary, and all of the parents and kids who made it happen! Hopefully the first of many!