The Maker/Hacker Spirit, Applied to Our Kids

As some of you know, I teach lockpicking with The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers. That means that I am actively teaching people how to better understand something they see every day but know nothing about. It also means that I am teaching people how to do something that can be illegal if done irresponsibly (we teach the ethics as one of our core tenets). Locks and physical security are things that affect us every day, but very few people really understand.

Lockpicking tends to be aligned with the Maker/Hacker culture. People want to understand the things in their daily life. To some, that means taking those things apart and learning what's inside them.

For lockpickers, it means taking a lock you know nothing about, and from the outside understanding the internals. Locks are a puzzle in the open. Everyone sees them, everyone knows that when you put the right key into a lock and turn, the lock opens. Very few understand the built-in vulnerabilities of locks, and how they can be defeated.

For others, it may mean making a model rocket with a camera attached to it. It may mean using a 3D printer to make something for a project (or for fun). It may mean subscribing to MAKE magazine and trying out one of the myriad number of cool projects they have available. It may mean stopping by your local makerspace or hackerspace to help tackle that project you have been putting off.

Whatever your reason for giving into the maker/hacker spirit, those of us with kids have an amazing opportunity. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education is getting more popular, and what better way to help your little hacker/maker than with projects at home. Not only are you exposing your kids to STEM, you're spending quality time together.

That quality time may be in your backyard building something, or it may be at your local makerspace on a 3D printer, or it may be at a local TOOOL (or other locksport group) meeting, or it could be at local Maker Faire. This weekend is the NYC World Maker Faire (which I will be at, unfortunately without my family). Last month we were in Dover, NH. Next weekend we'll be in Lewiston-Auburn, ME. There are Mini Maker Faires throughout the world.


There are so many great opportunities to get out there, take things apart, put things together (hopefully working correctly), and learn to do something. Why not take your kids with you? I had minimal exposure to things like this while I was growing up. I hope that exposing my kids to these things, and keeping them interested in STEM, will help them in their growth both physically and mentally.

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