Seattle's Child

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Coding, robots and more: Winter fun at Living Computers Museum + Labs


Living Computers: Museum + Labs has a lot of activities for kids coming up in the next month.

It starts on Sunday, Dec. 15, with the museum’s “Hours of Code” celebration, featuring a full day of workshops for all ages, all of which are included with admission. (Admission at Living Computers, in Seattle's Sodo neighborhood, is: $22 or $18 if purchased online. Children under 6 are free.)

“This is just an all ages event to try and see how many kids how  many families we can engage with an hour of coding,” says Nina Arens, manager of education programs at the museum.

[Related: Check out the Living Computers pop-up in Bellevue || Special winter activities at Seattle's Burke Museum]

The fun continues after Christmas with a series of workshops for kids, each featuring a different way to get creative with technology.

One of Arens’ favorites: Lego Robotics 101 (Friday, Jan. 3, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., $6), in which teams of two kids work together to build robots and program them through challenges.

The most important aspect of this activity is teamwork, Arens says.

“Kids work together to learn how to program a robot, they learn how to take turns, talk to each other and take each others ideas,” she says. “Those are the skills they are going to need, not just programming, the ability to work in a team and adapt to each other.”

Another highlight of the schedule: Sewable Curcuits (Sunday, Dec. 29, 10:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., $12), in which kids create their own lightup stuffed toys.

Not only do the kids in these workshops make some wonderfully creative things, they also chat as they sew, and sometimes meet kindred spirits.

“I’ve seen kids go up to their parents and say ‘I want a playdate.’”


Sunday, Dec. 15

Daylong celebration of the Hours of Code. All activities are included with admission.

10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Robot Smart City. Build a “Smart City” for Ozobots, little programmable robots that follow lines. Recommended ages: families with kids 4-11 years.

11 a.m. to noon. Digital DJs. Edit audio tracks using Python. Recommended ages: 12+

11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Type, Swipe, Click! A tour exploring the many ways people have devised to talk to machines. Recommended for families with middle-schoolers who love their phones.

Hourly, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Basic Programming on the Apple IIE. Recommended: ages 12+ who like old computers.

1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Scratch Retro-Gaming. Learn basic coding as you recreate the beloved game of Pac-Man. Recommended ages: 8 +

3:15 p.m. Epic Fail. A guided tour telling stories of success and failure in the history of technology. Recommended ages: 10+


Friday, Dec. 27

10:30 a.m. to noon. Robot Smart City. Build a “Smart City” for Ozobots, little programmable robots that follow lines. Recommended for ages 7 to 10. Free with admission.


Saturday, Dec. 28

10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Cardboard Computers. Make a cardboard model of a computer and learn about computer parts. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Free with admission.

1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Kit Build: LED Badge! Learn to solder while making a light-up badge. Under 10s must have adult accompanying. $12.


Sunday, Dec. 29

10:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Sewable Curcuits. Use your imagination and some knowledge of circuits to make a fun soft toy. Under 10s must have adult accompanying $12.


Thursday, Jan. 2

1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Intro to Breadboarding. A hands-on workshop for students aged 12 and older who are interested in robotics, microcontrollers or electricity. Free with admission.


Friday, Jan. 3

10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Lego Robotics 101. Work with a buddy to build a robot and program it through a series of challenges. Age 8 +. $6.

1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. PI-Art Squared. Learn to use a Raspberry Pi minicomputer to program an 8 x 8 color pixel board. Free with admission.


Saturday, Jan. 4

10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Scratch Retro-Gaming: Pac-Man. Learn the ins and outs of coding while recreating a beloved 8-bit video game. Recommended for ages 9 and up. Free with admission.

1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Kit-Build LED Badge! Learn to solder while making a lightup badge. Under 10s must have adult accompanying. $12.


About the Author

Fiona Cohen