Tech Thursdays this Fall

Internet_of_Things

Join us on Thursday evenings this Fall for what promises to be a fun time working on software and hardware projects of all types which a special focus on gadgets that interact with other gadgets and virtual worlds on the Internet (aka Internet of Things), and with the ultimate universe of virtual worlds, Minecraft.

Our tech schedule starts at 5pm with a CoderDojo meetup for kids, and adults who are kids at heart, to learn core concepts of programming and app/game design. We will use HourOfCode exercises and other online classes in Scratch, JavaScript, and Python. Students will advance at their own pace and may join us at anytime. At least two challenge tracks will be created. One will be to prepare for Kids Game Jam World Challenge, a 3 day event in January where our team designs and programs a Scratch video game. The second track will learn to use Javascript to program custom characters in Minecraft.

At 7pm we switch from software to hardware projects with a focus on building microelectronic gadgets. The initial gadget projects should be something we can build in one or two sessions, and participants are welcome and encouraged to develop their own projects. These gadgets might be something useful for the home, garage, garden, lab, or business. For example, our first project to use at the MakeSpace will be an automated open/closed switch that lights both a physical sign and a virtual sign on our website.calendar. This gadget will be a good example of a trigger-response circuit, similar to the Internet’s popular If-This-Then-That application.

Finally, our last meetup at 8:30 will return the focus to software projects for Internet of Things gadgets and advanced Minecraft programming. These IoT gadgets need to communicate across bluetooth, wifi, and physical circuits to microcomputers and Internet websites, social media, and cell phones. Some gadgets, such as environmental sensors will integrate with the environment of virtual worlds in Minecraft, worlds that emulate local neighborhoods and communities of the Greenbelt area. One challenge track is to develop a Minecraft world that can be used as an educational platform for computer science and microelectronics.

There is no fee to attend our tech meetups, but some hardware projects may have fees to cover expenses and microelectronic or microcomputer kits may be available for purchase. If you have any questions, drop us a message or attend the orientation meeting this Saturday at noon.

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