How to run a hackerspace for young hackers

Hackerspace TDvenlo has memberships for kids of 9 years and older. Here they learn the basics about soldering, electronics, programming, controlling LED strips and robotics. TDvenlo originally started with this in the 1960s and has been running ever since. When we talk with other hackerspaces we hear that they also show interest in starting a group for young hackers. Or at least want to hear our experiences with running this group. What kind of curriculum works? How to structure the evenings? How is interaction between young and experienced hacker going? How do you keep them entertained?

We will talk about all the above topics and also tell something about how we got here and what plans we have for the future. Hackerspace TDvenlo started in the ’60s as a club of the technical department in a community building. Soon the people realized that the best way to get new people is “To get ‘m while they’re young.” In the 00’s the internet was becoming commonplace and interest in electronics waned. This resulted in some quiet years around the early ’10s. One year after OHM2013 we changed into Hackerspace TDvenlo. Because we had a lot of older hackers and not so many kids hacking. Fortunately a lot of educational electronics emerged in the past years and we had the experience to jumpstart a new group. In 2016 we successfully started a new youth group with around 11 kids which runs splendidly.

About the Marc and Jelle

Marc and Jelle from Hackerspace TDvenlo will present this talk. Marc started at the TD in Venlo on his 9th and has been a member ever since. Outside the hackerspace Marc has a BSc degree in Electrical Engineering and is currently pursuing his MSc. in the field of Electrical Energy Systems. Apart from that, he is active as a swimming teacher for over 10 years. This gives him quite some experience in didactics. Jelle learned hacking in all kinds of ways at the boy scouts from an early age. He has studied electronics and messed around with free software since 1996. He knew about the TD since the late ’00s but was busy elsewhere. After visiting OHM2013 he knew that the TD was the place in Venlo to hack with friends. Currently he guides the young hackers with programming and advanced electronics.