When we were told that Spark was hosting a private event to introduce kids to technology, we could not pass up the opportunity to check it out. The event surpassed what we expected. Some of the event’s booths may seem simple but the logic and theming behind it was geared very much to children and inspiring them to see tech in a fun and usable way.
Upon entering attendees checked in at Mission C0ntrol (front desks) where they were given RFID bracelets and set loose inside. The bracelets allowed them to tag locations they had visited as well as to tag any photos they had taken of themselves during the event. At any time, they could visit a booth that would allow them to see the photos attached to their RFID tags. The main draw of the photos was the ability to have your picture taken with a few All Black players who were in attendance at the event (no VR here, they were actually there) in front of a green screen.
While the photos were a fun way to get people excited, what everyone was really here for was the free food. Just kidding, it was the tech stations and they did not disappoint.
One booth had a series of tools and computers designed to be taken apart as a scavenger hunt. Kids were on the hunt for specific pieces inside a computer and “helpers” were on hand to explain what the pieced were and how they worked.
There were science booths that showed fulcrum physics using DIY marshmallow catapults and a chemistry lesson using milk, soap and food colouring (try it, it was very cool). Attendees were able to program their own quick games and simulations as well as programming radio controlled cars to move through a series of pre-programmed actions and then tested on a marked out track and obstacle course.
There were games to play in the form of Rock Band and DJ/Scratching lessons, Tech themed arts and crafts and even a lesson in 3D printing with open stations. To keep attendees entertained there were of course the usual balloon animals, but also 3D tattoos that (using a MagicTatts App) would show animations that appear when your mobile device was pointed at the temp tattoo (applied to your skin).
Nothing was “dumbed down” in any way, but rather it was all designed to appeal to kids and engage them in scenarios of “play” that they could identify with. Walking around and seeing the look of determination and concentration on their faces and the problem solved at many of the stations was wonderful to experience.
In the end it was a fun and surprisingly educational afternoon and an excellent way to introduce children to the world of tech. The BtT Team wants to thank Spark Digital for inviting us in and giving us the opportunity to share this with our viewers. It was a fun and entertaining experience and we are hopeful that it can grow into something the general public will be able to enjoy in the future as well.