Maker & Coder Groups

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Maker Fair group for teen

March 2013

I am seeking information about any local Berkeley groups for teens interested in building Maker Faire-type projects. My 16 y.o. son is a sophomore at BHS and loves to build things, but there don't seem to be any groups focused on this interest, in spite of the hundreds of possible clubs. Thanks for your help. mom of natural mechanic

Dear Mom of Natural Mechanic, My son went to Berkeley High. He is now 19. He was the first young kid in the Makers Faire to build a Power tool Race ''car''. It was a blast. He also loves to build things and still does. We never really found any group at Berkeley High, I just found older friends who were builder types, fun, interested and creative. This worked pretty well for him. He still builds stuff all the time. The crucible in Oakland is a pretty fun place. Take him to the Makers faire if you haven't already and he'll meet people there too. (We are always building fun stuff at our house but you don't know us) tracybob

Finding kids into building/coding (12 yo)

Nov 2012

We're wondering if there are groups of kids who meet and build things or program things in or near Berkeley, during the year? ID Tech sounds great but summer is a long way off. Our child is really into building things, and we think he wants to learn more about coding (mostly graphics design, from what we see), but we don't know of many other like-minded kids nearby. We'd love suggestions of where he might be able to connect up with kids with similar interests and/or how to encourage him to do these things solo (but it's much more fun with a friend). Thank you. anon

Try DVC's College for kids program. When you say build something not sure what you mean. Can you be more specific? Apps, robotics, remote control, videos, web sites, circuits.

He's at the perfect age for Legos Mindstorms or Arduino. There are tons of videos and web sites to help him get going. If he's a smart kid get him going with Arduino. Purchase from Arduino'a web site.

Contrary to what you are thinking it's distracting to do this with a friend. (Too many cooks syndrome.) He'll get more out of it and learn more quickly if he does it by himself. ANON

Sounds like you might have a Hacker Kid, or a Maker Kid, on your hands. You may want to check out some of the local hacker spaces, like Ace Monster Toys in Oakland. They have also recently launched a program called ''Hacker Scouts'' for kids ages 8-14 where they do all kinds of cool projects. They meet every two weeks and have had a really good turn out of families all around the bay. Another thing to consider might be Young Makers, a program that is coordinated (I think) by the people who put on the Maker Faire each year in San Mateo. From what I understand Young Maker groups are either self-started or you can find an existing group that is doing a project. The ultimate goal is to create something to display at the Maker Faire in May. You can find info on both of these programs online: or Tara


Creative classes for gifted 8-year-old

Feb 2010

My 8 year old son has always been interested in how things work. He knows far more than my husband and I put together. He has created many 'working' fans, speakers, and other inventions. Not to mention, has taken apart every broken toy, cd player, and electronic he could get his hands on. My problem is that I'm finding myself at a stand still in finding him resources that can nurture and feed his interest at a level that keeps him excelling. I think he would do well in any class where he can use his creativity and have the neccessary tools to create. Is there such a place? Any ideas from other parents with children who build/create would be helpful.

Hi, there is a robotics class in Berkeley. I am afraid you may need to Google it. I highly recommend Lawrence Hall of Science classes also

You might consider the First Lego League (the pre-high school program of the famous First Robotics Competition) or Odyssey of the Mind if your school sponsors (or might support you forming) a team. My daughter did Odyssey for two years and it was a phenomenal experience. Another idea might be to subscribe to 'Make' or 'Popular Science' as both have wonderful projects. Edmunds Scientifics and ThinkGeek have many intriguing science and engineering items. UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science also offers summer courses that might be right up his alley. Good luck and have fun with your enthusiastic engineer! --mom of a maker/builder, too

I have a 3-year old who will probably be your 8-year old in 5 years. I have no actual knowledge of the place but a friend of mine pointed me to the Tinkering School as a place to think about sending my kid when he's older. Note that the application deadline for this summer is mid-March. There are also robotics teams at least in Marin(ish) and Pleasanton(ish). (The people I know who do it live in those places.) I think there is also a Lego robotics camp somewhere near Berkeley. And a kids carpentry class in Berkeley. Anon