There was a lively debate about whether kids have a place in hackerspaces. The consensus seemed to be that kids would certainly benefit from the experience, if the group is willing to have them and legal issues can be sorted out. Rmadams weighed in with a positive experience:
I have been bringing my girls to the hackerspace I belong to since we first started it a couple of years ago. They are now 10 and 12 years old, and have really benefited from the experience. The exposure to a wide range of interesting projects and people in the group has been a great opportunity for them- they have clearly seen that engaging in hackerspace projects can be both fun and intellectually stimulating. We even brought a friend of my 12-year-old along to one of the hackerspace projects, something that she still talks about months later. Interest and engagement in technical activities at a young age is great, and is particularly important for girls, and our hackerspace has facilitated that. One point that I think is important to make is that the “edgy” nature of hackerpaces and hacker culture in general can be a key part of the appeal of making/hacking for kids. The risks of being around a hackerspace to life and limb are certainly no more than the many dangerous sports that our children participate in, and whatever risks there are around being exposed to alternative lifestyles, edgy art, bad language, etc., are more than counterbalanced by the mental flexibility that children can get from this diversity. Certain kids, particularly teenagers, seem to be drawn to activities that are perceived as risky or “outsider,” and I think that hackerspaces can be a place where that interest can turn into valuable technical and “maker” experience, while not being any more dangerous than anything else they do. I think that if everything that we expose our kids to has been carefully sanitized and padded for their protection, we are depriving them of valuable life lessons.
and Colecoman1982 pointed out some of the difficulties:
@Pete: I would be inclined to agree with you that it is a little ageist, but such is the way of the world. The simple fact is that the difference between an 18 year old member/guest versus a 17 year old member/guest is significant when it comes to legal liability and, thus, insurance rates. As for the, sometimes, crude atmosphere, I never meant to suggest that late high-schoolers couldn’t handle it, the issue is more a matter of parents not being able to handle it than anything else. Like it or not, they’re still the boss until you hit that magic 18th birthday.
Andy Johnson is looking for a new best friend, after his former one ditched him to make a compressed air rocket launcher:
My best friend Eric informed me that his new best friend is KipKay… he built this rocket launcher from the Weekend Projects podcast. He came over Saturday and we took the launcher to the local schoolyard. Marc is right. This rocket goes high! Whether on 75 pounds or 40 pounds, it makes the rocket soar! We tried to time the hangtime, and it got 8.5 seconds until it got stuck in a tree, and we were done. (only made one rocket!) If you know the exit velocity of the rocket, you can measure the height by using some formulae. So if there’s any makers in SLC that need a new best friend… ;) We’ll see if I make the Most Useless Machine with him or not!
Over on Facebook, Glenn A. Richter learned something new about how to grow gourmet mushrooms:
you mean you don’t hafta grow them in you-know-what?
The Humble Homes, Simple Shacks… preview and giveaway caused Tree Frog to reminisce about previous fort building experiences:
The best fort we ever built was put together around three trees. We built a basic triangle out of scrap lumber, then constructed ramshackle walls out of anything we could find-old plywood, cardboard, etc. The “door” was simply a hole in the floor at one of the apices of the triangle…you had to climb up and in. One January we had the brilliant idea of enclosing the bottom of the tree fort with old Christmas trees…so we scoured the neighborhood and drug all the discarded trees we could find back home. We leaned the old trees against the tree house base…instant alpine camouflage! Of course, the fact that we were in the South didn’t discourage us! Ah…the simple joys of an old board, a hammer and some nails…
Also on Facebook, Chris Campbell has a suggestion for the Personal Applause Sign project:
I think he needs to make this into a mobile unit, maybe a solar pack, LED back lighting and mount it onto a construction helmet. And maybe a wireless switch to activate it. It’s not practical to only do things you expect people to clap for where there is a plug! It has to be for anywhere… anytime…
Finally, we had a rather touching episode over in the forums. Jilina was looking for a way to cancel their subscription:
I need to cancel my Make Magazine subscription due to finances. I have scoured the Make site and cannot find any way to cancel. Please tell me how!
In response, forum member Alankilian had a touching offer:
Jilina, If you think your finances will be better off next year, I’ll give you the $35 needed to keep the subscription.
I’m sure Matt can figure out how to have me get you a gift subscription.
I’d hate to see someone who loves the magazine not get to read it just for a temporary financial matter.
Like these comments? Be sure to sound off in the comments! You could be in next week’s column.