Hacker Scouts: A Family Adventure

Stop by any Hacker Scouts Open Lab and you'll find a hive of activity. Busy adults and kids focusing on the projects they have chosen , mentors moving between anyone who needs assistance, machines humming a busy tune in the background. But what makes Hacker Scouts unique is the opportunity for parents, who are often as curious and interested as their kids, to learn and hack and make. This is a sanctuary for Maker families to build their skill set, form community, and pool enthusiasm. Why is this so important to the Hacker Scouts mission? First, it manifests our desire for community and family inclusiveness. Families who spend time together working on a project are investing in that relationship. They are getting to know each other on a deeper level: what are each individual's passions, how do they communicate, how do they learn, how do we work together as a family? That sense of cohesiveness then extends to the opportunity to connect with other Maker families. Second, it concretely confirms for our children the idea that learning is a life-long process. Even as adults, we set new goals, are willing to work for new knowledge and skills, and our curiosity and passions will more often than not over-ride any doubt or fear of obtaining those knowledge and skills. Modeling is the most successful strategy of parenting, because it is authentic and helps children form the foundation of how they see themselves as learners and seekers. As Maria Montessori said, " If I were to establish a primary principle, it would be to constantly allow the child's participation in our lives ... To extend to the child this hospitality, to allow him to participate in our work can be difficult, but it costs nothing. Our time is a far more precious gift than material objects. " In other words, children learn who they are and develop their identity through real work, guided by the adults in their lives. This experience is not only valuable, but essential. Learning becomes a natural process rather than something that only happens when one has permission or is instructed. Finally, it supports our view that apprenticeship and peer learning result in more complex understanding and skill acquisition. Mentor to child, mentor to parent, parent to child, child to parent, child to child: it all happens at Hacker Scouts. There is a subtle, other level of communication that we observe: personal stories of success and failure, body language, and demonstrations of technique and style all teach in a way that traditional instruction can not. Mentorship in this way establishes competency and retention, which is fundamental to the progression of more sophisticated projects and the ability to make ideas into reality. Hacker Scouts is built around the idea that every member of a Maker family is excited and eager to learn and make. So we hacked the concept of STEAM education being targeted at children, and expanded it to the whole community.While we target our activities to the 8-14 year old range, because our program is not a drop-off event parents have an opportunity they rarely get: to work with and make with their kids. We hope our families enjoy it as much as we do! Co-Founder Samantha Cook