Young Makers Inspire a New Science Program

 In technology

by: James Higa, Executive Director

PVF was on hand to support the first build-your-own computer Popup Pi Day at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. 30 youth ages 12-15 gathered for a fun-filled day of learning how computers were invented and how they work.

The morning started with an illuminating tour of the museum to learn about the history of Silicon Valley and how it is that computers came to be invented. They even heard stories first-hand from the legendary Alan Acorn, inventor of the classic Atari game “Pong.”  He can still beat all comers in the play Pong exhibit.

The tour was followed by hands-on time with the “Raspberry Pi,” a credit card-sized single-board computer developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.  It was developed with the intention of promoting the teaching of basic computer science and sells for a mind bogglingly low $35.  The kids gathered in small groups to assemble the parts to build their own working computer.Computer History Museum

By the end of the day, these young makers had not only built their own computer, but were busy modifying their own version of the Pong game and launching their own Minecraft worlds. Of the 30 kids who came, 22 were girls!

This was a different kind of hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning. What a different learning experience it is to touch and get your hands on the guts of what makes a computer work rather than the hermetically sealed and inaccessible mass-produced consumer gadgets that fill our daily lives.

The Computer History Museum is a place that honors the makers who established Silicon Valley.  It was great to see young makers in action.  The Raspberry Pi computer provides a fun, interactive outlet that engages kids and allows them to step into the shoes of Silicon Valley makers for a day. The cries of “Yay! Stickers!” and “Wow, it’s working” that filled the air are still ringing in my ears.

The day was a huge success. As one mom said in an email, “I have no words to thank you. My son had a great time at the museum today, it really tickled something in him.”

To top off the day, the kids had a huge helping of, what else…some raspberry pie.

PVF is proud to be an active connector working side by side with our community collaborators like the Computer History Museum to dream up innovative ideas in learning – like the Popup Pi Day.

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