TechHive Comes Alive at Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science

Tech Hive intern Nikita Gupta shows off her LED light up Converse shoes. Photo by Spencer Whitney.

Tech Hive intern Nikita Gupta shows off her LED light up Converse shoes. Photo by Spencer Whitney.

Ski Ball and PacMan machines made from cardboard – those were some of the popular arcade games people came across as they attended the Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science TechHive showcase.

Founded in January 2013, TechHive is a pre-college engineering design program that focuses on supporting creativity and authentic engineering design experiences for high school students ages 14 to 18. The program hopes to inspire and prepare students for careers in science and technology.

Once accepted into the program, the interns receive formal training every second Saturday of the month, as well as “techtorials” that teach how the techniques of video conferencing and digital drafting.

“It gives them hands-on experiences that they don’t otherwise get a chance to do. and they get a chance to practice communicating their skills in science,

Each intern must commit to commit to work three days per month during the school year and 15-20 hours per week during the summer. Summer interns receive a stipend for their participation.

“It’s so different from every other program. You’re exposed to STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math,” said Kona Yee-Wong, a 12th grade student at Oakland Technical High School.

She says she likes environmental studies, but given her participation in TechHive since the 11th grade, she says she “definitely” wants to continue down the technology path she is now on.

Tech Hive Intern uses Pac-Man Arcade made mostly out of cardboard materials. Photo by Spencer Whitney.

Tech Hive Intern uses Pac-Man Arcade made mostly out of cardboard materials. Photo by Spencer Whitney.

Most of the designs use the Makey Makey system, an innovative kit that can turn everyday objects into touchpads. Objects are connected using alligator clips to the Makey Makey keyboard, which is attached to a computer so that when someone touches the object, it sends a signal to the computer.

Interns then use that technology to create everything from a piano keyboard to video control board controlled by a roll of tape, cardboard, and a joystick made from cardboard.

Alex Smirnov, a student at De La Salle High School in Concord, has been a part of TechHive since it began. He says most of the inventions are inspired from what they see online and coming to TechHive allows him to explore the ideas of science while also providing opportunity to teach it to Lawrence Hall of Science visitors.

Nikita Gupta,15, didn’t use the “Makey Makey” system but applied the same principles to design her own light-up shoe. Using an LED light strip, a 9 volt battery, a pen cap, wiring, and small metal balls commonly on dog chain necklaces, she was able to bring her idea to life.

“I just used stuff I found at home,” she said, explaining the steps it took for her to make it work. “I haven’t worn them yet, but I am planning to.”

For more information about TechHive, visit www.lawrencehallofscience.org

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