On the last Saturday of November, we had twenty four kids and their parents over at the Science Centre for a morning of biohacking workshops. It was a breath of change from the usual programming or electronics-centric activities which we had at previous workshops. This time round, we invite kids to explore the world of microbiology by showing them how physical DNA looks like as well as turning PC webcams into microscopes.
(webcam hacking station. photo source: Ann)
We helped kids (and even parents) to demystify the science behind the extraction of DNA. Using common household items such as detergent, rubbing alcohol, coffee filter and resealable plastic bags, we showed kids how to mash local fruits (such as mangosteens, starfruits, bananas and tomatoes) to pulps. Adding detergent and then separating the solids, they introduced the alcohol to precipitates the DNA.
(mashing bananas into pulp and adding water & detergent. photo souce: Ann)
(DNA from mangosteen, a local fruit. photo source: Bridgette)
At another station, we showed how kids can take apart a webcam and flip the lens around, turning the webcam into a stage-less microscope with relatively good resolution. They had so much fun taking screws out and messing around with the microscopes that they had no time to build the stage!
(observing the sub-pixels of the LCD display with the newly-hacked microscope. source: Ann)
We have several mentors to thank for taking time to show kids many cool stuff. We had Clara, a visiting science communicator who helped to facilitate the squishy circuit station as well as Ben, a maker-educator who brought his own microscope that he hacked and showed kids the many interesting slides that he prepared himself. Not to mention a big thank you to Kate and Eugene who helped out at the webcam station.
(Clara introducing squishy circuits. photo source: Ann)
(exploring squishy circuits. photo source: Ann)
(Kate showing kids how to hack a webcam into a microscope. photo source: Ann)
As the last workshop for the year, we are happy to see familiar faces from the past workshops as well as receiving kids who are new to HacKIDemia. We are ever thankful for their support in our ‘experimental’ and ‘messy’ project as we introduce new ideas which we hope to test out at a larger scale. If anyone would like to contribute any ideas or be one of our mentors, let us know by writing to email@example.com