Hack Sioux Falls Final Projects (Spring 2019)

Eighteen kids, eight meet-ups, zero shorted boards, seven blown LEDs, one burnt finger, and two months of fun & creativity. That sums up our third Hack Sioux Falls project hosted by Code Bootcamp School.

When I first launched this project last year, I had no idea what to expect or what the kids would find interesting, but my idea was simple…

What would happen if we encouraged kids to build something cool using electronics, microcontrollers, sensors, and LEDs?

Sign-Up For The Fall 2019 Hack Sioux Falls

This Hack Sioux Falls project was a lot different than our last two – we challenged the kids to recreate the iconic game Simon Says using a microcontroller, 4 arcade buttons, and their own creativity for a box. This video explains the project:

Previously I wrote about the lessons learned from the first Hack Sioux Falls project and then what worked great for our second Hack Sioux Falls, I feel that this third project went very smooth. Having a specific goal and design in mind helped the kids focus their creativity.

Just like our previous events, the ages ranged from about 3th grade through high-school and very few had any electronics experience. We did have a few returning kids from our earlier events, which helped.

Hack Sioux Falls touches on every aspect of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education during our event. Students learned basic electrical engineering, electronic circuits, how micro-controllers work, wrote some C/C++ code, learned how to solder, and we even did a little math — that last one was tough. How many camps touch on every aspect of STEM? None that I have seen.

In addition to hands-on projects, the students learned basic presentation and communication skills while they created a video of their project. They got to explain what they built, the challenges they overcame, and their excitement of what they learned.

Here are some of the kids explaining their final projects, complete with videos:

Alma was one of our volunteers but she jumped right in and built her own Simon Says as well! Thanks for all of your help Alma.
Ava and I spent a good 40-minutes getting that ONE button to work! She did an amazing job with her final project, Billy Bob.
Caleb loved shooting videos, he made 4. Head over to Facebook to see the others.
Collin did a great job on his Simon Says, even added a custom tune.
Everett always comes up with creative designs, check out his “egg-Says” version.
Gabriel’s Simon Says has a custom tune as well, check it out.
Konner also worked on an FM radio project between classes, really cool.
Lucus took a postal box and made it into a Simon Says game.
Matthew do a lot of custom tweaks to his Simon Says, check out his video.
Merrick had a great idea on button placement for her Simon Says.
Mytch has been learning electronics on his own and Hack Sioux Falls filled in a bunch of gaps for him.
Sam turned an old cookie tin into a Simon Says, with a little help from her dad.
Zeke built his Simon Says using an old shoe box, great job Zeke.

Cael, Willem, Henry, Miles, Evangeline, and Brooke also completed their projects but were not able to shoot their final videoes. Everyone did an amazing job, give them a quick watch and like them on YouTube. The videos are only 30-seconds to a minute long.

New Lessons Learned

Each time I run an event, I learn more about what works & what doesn’t. I wanted to share a few observations and how I’ll adjust future Hack Sioux Falls events.

  • Every kid will love something different about the event. I thought everyone would struggle with the code but a few kids loved writing coding more than the electronics.
  • Parent participation really improves the overall success. We had a lot of parents get REALLY involved this time and it was a lot of fun. One change I made was adding a ticket type just for parents. I would like to find a way to engage more of the parents.
  • Again this time, our soldering workshop was a huge hit. I some small metal detector kids from China and I honestly didn’t think we’d get them all working, but we did.
  • Having a pre-selected project and theme really did help. This is how I’ll continue to host this event. (If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them.)
  • After the first two group workshops, I immediately split the kids into smaller groups of kids with specific 30-minute blocks to work on their projects. This worked really well. It meant more time for me, but a much better experience for the kids, and parents.
  • I brought coffee… The parents appreciated that.

Next Phase

We are planning the next Hack Sioux Falls event right now, tickets are on sale at http://hacksiouxfalls.com/. The start date will be September 2019 and last about 6-weeks.

I have not decided what the next event challenge will be but will announce something in August. Some ideas include learning about the Internet of Things (IoT), automated robots, communication techniques, and maybe even some animatronics. I have a ton of ideas and the more community support we receive, the more we can explore.

Sign-Up For The Fall 2019 Hack Sioux Falls


Our Hack Sioux Falls events have some amazing sponsors, they stepped up on an unproven, unclear project and really supported our efforts.

First Bank & Trust

I’d like to specifically thank all of the volunteers and parents that stepped in to help. Many of them joined us for many events.

Sign-Up For The Spring Hack Sioux Falls