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Free Computer Science Clubs At Los Alamos Makers

on September 10, 2018 - 8:00am

Kids learning the fundamentals of how a computer works by building marble-operated mechanical computers during CoderDojo for kids ages 7 to 12 at Los Alamos Makers. Courtesy photo

LOS ALAMOS MAKERS News:

Digital technology is all around us. Although not everyone aspires to be an engineer or a developer, we all wish we had more control over the technology we use.

“Manufacturers today want you to think that hardware is a black box. You shouldn’t work on it! If it breaks you should throw it away or you should pay somebody a lot of money. The maker movement is changing that,” said Akkana Peck during her ‘Ignite Los Alamos’ talk, this summer.

In the spirit of democratizing technology and giving people opportunities to informally learn or get help with their projects, Los Alamos Makers at 3540 Orange St., has been organizing free weekly computer science and electronics clubs for people of all ages for the past two years.

Every Tuesday from 3:30-4.30 p.m., James Wernicke, a LANL computer scientist, mentors a free coding club for kids ages 7 to 12. Kids of various levels learn to be creative and demystify electronics, games, apps and more, in a non-intimidating environment, while socializing with their peers. It is however not just about screens, Wernicke also has introduced the kids to a hands-on game that allows them to learn how computers actually work as they build mechanical computers.

Every Thursday from 6:30-8 p.m., Peck facilitates the free Raspberry Pi club for all ages. Peck is a software engineer and author of “Jumpstarting the Raspberry Pi zero W, - Control the world around you with a $10 computer”.

Although the Raspberry Pi club is named after the powerful credit-card-sized computer that people can incorporate in many interesting projects, other microcontrollers and electronics projects are welcome. At Los Alamos Makers, people have worked on various projects, from fancy wearable electronics projects to farm monitoring devices. As fancy as that sounds, novices should not be intimidated.

In order to encourage beginners to join in the fun, starting Thursday, Sept. 13, the Pi club will incorporate some simple project-based structured activities for beginners of any age, from simple LED projects, slowly progressing to more advanced projects like temperature sensors, light strings and whatever else people want to work on.

Raspberry Pi enthusiasts are still encouraged to geek out, network with like-minded people and work on their own projects.

“Pi club isn’t turning into a formal class, we still want a place where everyone can work on anything they want and share their progress and tips,” Peck said. “We are just adding some guidance for new people who aren’t sure what to work on yet.”

Anyone curious or enthusiastic about digital making, or more traditional craft, is encouraged to visit Los Alamos Makers either online at LosAlamosMakers.org or in person and join the various free interest clubs. The calendar of events is available at https://www.eventbrite.com/o/los-alamos-makers-15081661768.

Anyone willing to share their skills by volunteering or mentoring also is encouraged to visit or email hello@losalamosmakers.org.

 


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