10.06.2016 — by Reetta Heiskanen

First Mehackit workshops in Norway

In Categories: Educator In English

Last week we organized three Mehackit workshops in Oslo - a five hour hardware hack and two pop-up workshops with Sonic Pi. 


The workshops were organized together with Finsk-Norsk culture institute Finno and Biblo Toyen, the coolest library we have EVER seen. Biblo Toyen is a library for 10-15 year olds and adults are actually not even allowed inside the library. But luckily we got a special permission to enter the library!

Our workshop masterminds Sanna & Tommi seriously blew the minds of the attendees and they even got really good feedback for their pedagogical skills! Norway we love you.

During the five hour hardware hack 13-14 year olds got to build their own arduino installations out of plush toys. It was great to see how eye-opening the experience was for these students: only one in the group had programmed before and the students actually got to use their creativity and imagination while building with arduinos.

The pop-up workshops with Sonic Pi were all about live programming music and epic tunes - two girls (aged 12) programmed beats so awesome that they even started to dance..... Check our Instagram for more videos.

 
Thank you for the amazing co-operation Finno and Biblo Toyen!

P.S We are looking for a pilot school in Oslo - is your high school interested in technology education? Contact hello@mehackit.org ! :)



08.01.2016 — by Tommi Koskinen

Encouraging youth to code a song with Sonic Pi

In Categories: Sonic Pi In English
Artist Vilma Alina performing at the Mehackit stage. 

One of the highlights this year at SuomiAreena, the biggest Finnish public debate forum held in Pori every Summer, was the release of #Summercode song that we created with youth around Finland. 


We asked people from all around Finland in social media to send us song sketches that they had written with Sonic Pi (a free open source music programming environment) and, in the end, arranged them as a one full song. 

The participants had to follow few simple rules that made our task of arranging the song easier: "You can only send us a song sketch of max. 50 lines of code and all melodies have to be written in C major scale." 

By the deadline date, we had received tens of submissions that ranged from cheery melodies and hip hop beats to washed away ambient music. 

We even got the talented Finnish pop singer, Vilma Alina, to contribute some vocal samples and her own Sonic Pi beats and melodies to the mix! The end result is not an ordinary summer hit song by no means, but it is more like an unique roller coaster ride that flirts with pop music and artistic experimentation. 

Listen to the song here!

#Summercode campaign was an effort to engage youth with creative technology by writing and producing music collaboratively in a novelty fashion. 

This encouraged the participants to learn basics of programming, creative technology and electronic music production. Even those who had no previous knowledge of music or programming could finish their song parts thanks to Sonic Pi which is primarily designed to help newcomers to take their first steps into the world of coding and computer music. 

We've been teaching "Music Programming with Sonic Pi" workshop in upper elementary schools and plan to take it to the high schools as well during the next school year. 

You can download the full #Summercode (#kesäkoodi in Finnish) song from here and run it in the Sonic Pi application. While you're at it, Sonic Pi is looking for more funding to continue the development work. The project was created by by Sam Aaron at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and you can support them here <http://sonic-pi.net/funding.html>. 



06.22.2016 — by Reetta Heiskanen

A week at Mehackit

In Categories: In English


Veera Pohjola, our summer intern and Haya Tarabichi, spending a TET-week at Mehackit. 

Haya Tarabichi, an eighth grader from Espoo International School spent her TET (work practice program) -week at Mehackit. She wrote some thoughts on her experience!


My name is Haya Tarabichi and I spent a week at Mehackit as a part of my eighth grade TET. My experience at Mehackit was very educating, eye-opening, enlightening and entertaining.

When I walked into the Mehackit office, I barely had any knowledge on how to code and what it takes to run a startup and how to maintain a good communication with a startups’ or companies customers. But when I stepped out of the Mehackit office I had general knowledge about all these topics and much more.

Let me just say I have much more respect to everyone who works in a startup or small company because it takes a lot of dedication, time and hardwork to make everyone happy.

1. First Steps and Sonic Pi

One of the first things I did was install Sonic Pi, which is a language of code called Ruby and it basically generates music by code. In all honesty, I have never learned any music theory nor learned how to play an instrument, so at first I was a bit weary about Sonic Pi. After learning and following instructions on how to make actual music, it became very simple and very enjoyable and surprisingly I made quite decent tunes with Sonic Pi.

2. Kesäkoodi

I hope this inspires a few individuals to join #kesäkoodi! Now you might say what is kesäkoodi…. It’s basically a huge mashup of pieces of code made on Sonic Pi from people all over Finland. It will then be premiered in SuomiAreena in Pori, so I really encourage a lot of people to join even if you don’t have any experience with music. You can still create impressive snippets or tracks by using Sonic Pi. You can read more on the #Kesäkoodi website

3. Comms

Communication is one of the most important things in a startup and a company and it’s really important to know which group to target and how to give them what they want, that’s everything communication’s about.

So the way I helped with the communication and advertising here is that I gave them an insight of what teenagers use mostly and what appeals to us teenagers, while doing that I learned a lot about communication and advertising and also how to make something look appealing.

4. Mehackit as a company

My opinion about Mehackit is that t’s a great company which promotes a great and inspiring idea. I feel like anyone with a great idea can make that into reality. Mehackit is a great way to teach children and teenagers and also adults about coding in a very simple, entertaining and memorable way which is something you can’t find everywhere and this is what makes this startup so special. That and everyone who’s involved in Mehackit are also very amazing and everyone are just filled with ideas and creativity. Their creativity and determination affected me in a good way during this week.

Overall, I am very glad to have spent my TET week at Mehackit. I learned a lot of valuable information and a few skills and also I got a lot of valuable advice. In addition to all that I have met amazing and very inspiring people who are also very dedicated to what they do which is a good thing.

The atmosphere of the workspace was also very welcoming, cozy and very open which enables a flow of good vibes, creativity and ideas. I came in here not knowing how to code but I left with knowledge on how to code music and what it takes to run a startup also a ton of valuable advice. I advise everyone to join #kesäkoodi it will be an amazing experience and an amazing summer hit. Thanks to everyone at Mehackit for making my TET-experience memorable.

Best,

Haya

06.09.2016 — by Reetta Heiskanen

Creative technology education demo in Summit Prep High School

In Categories: In English

While Team Mehackit visited San Francisco in the end of April, we also held an arduino workshop at Summit Preparatory Charter High School in Redwood City, Silicon Valley area. Our workshop was part of a larger course at the school called “Creativity Unleashed". 





 

The "Creativity Unleashed" course is part of the Expeditions program at Summit Prep, which is essentially an 8-week long electives class. We were truly excited to unleash some creativity in the classroom!

Instructors and participants

There were 20 high schools students who were 15-16 years old and five instructors from Mehackit. Only a couple of students had earlier experience on computer programming.

Description

The workshop started with a general introduction about Mehackit and the importance of creativity in technology education and life in general. After that one of our fabulous instructors, Tommi Koskinen held an introduction about Arduino theremin-instruments. The theremin is an early electronical music instrument controlled without physical contact by the performer. It is named after its Russian inventor Leon Theremin who patented the device in 1928. Almost 100 years ago!!

Check out this awesome video of Leon Theremin playing his instrument: 



After the video we started working with Arduinos! Our amazing curriculum instructor Mikko Eloholma will guide us through what happened next:  

1) First we built the circuits. Circuit included a LDR-sensor as an input and a piezo-buzzer as an output. Graph of the circuit was provided for the students. After circuits maybe two hours had passed and we moved on to programming. 

2) Students used codebender (codebender.cc) for writing and uploading the code.

3) The idea was to produce sound of certain frequency based on the value (amount of light) that comes from the LDR-sensor. Main code was provided and explained for the students, but they had to change the mapping value of analog input (LDR-sensor) so, that piezo-buzzer produced sounds of reasonable frequency.

What really worked during the workshop?

+  Students were enthusiastic about Arduino and the Theremin-instruments.

+ The students tried programming and building theremins for the first time and most of the instruments worked. In our opinion theremins are even cooler than for example blinking LED’s

+  It would have been impossible for the students to learn to produce all of the code in the time we had but editing the code worked fine. We got an impression that they understood what they did by changing mapping values and maybe they learned something about the code in general too.

+ Codebender was new for us and it mostly worked fine. It’s a good alternative for Arduino IDE if you don’t have time to install.


Something to develop

  • It was quite ambitious to do so much in such a short time. Students built working theremins, but obviously they didn’t have enought time to understand all of the code or working principles of Arduino.

  • All five of us had hands full of work. If there had been only two instructing, it wouldn’t have been possible with 20 students.

  • We had some problems with codebender because the code didn’t upload. It took some time for us to realize that restarting the software fixes the problem.


Feedback:

The teacher at the course Zev Vernon-Lapow thought the workshop was a fun experience for the high schoolers.

“It was great having the Mehackit team bring Arduinos into the classroom. The students got to struggle with how to build circuits and write code. In the end they got to play with their final product. The most exciting part was when the solenoid machine was brought out. Students eyes lit up as they gathered around the machine and watched it fire beats”, Zev said.

One of the students at the course thought it was pretty amazing to try arduino for the first time.

"It was awesome when the theremin instrument actually worked."

Thank you Summit Preparatory high school!




05.04.2016 — by Reetta Heiskanen

Mehackit introduced creative music programming at SDC

In Categories: In English

"The way Mehackit teaches creative technology to the youth is really inspiring. I attended their workshop at SDC and experienced something totally new. They combine programming and technology with the creative side of thinking which is a great way to teach the youth.” -Brandi Frisbie, software engineer




The Samsung Developer Conference was a first-time experience for us at Mehackit. An oh boy, did the conference exceed our expectations.

During the event we held all together 14 workshops for conference attendees. At our Mehackit Musiclab, attendees got to program songs with the help of creative technology.

“We wanted to show the conference attendees what creative technology really is and how you can use it in a fun and accessible way”, Tommi Koskinen, an instructor at Mehackit says

The Mehackit workshops lasted for 30-minutes and the attendees got to program their own songs with Sonic Pi, a Ruby-based live coding synth developed at the University of Cambridge by Sam Aaron. Mehackit teaches programming in three different ways: through visual arts, robotics and music. Mehackit partnered with Samsung in November 2014 for a multi-year collaboration. 

“It was very rewarding to have lots of people championing us and taking the time to participate in our workshops. We got a lot of encouraging comments about Mehackit and why creative technology is so important - especially delivered to youth”, Henrietta Kekäläinen, the Founder at Mehackit says.

At the Mehackit stand conference attendees also got to try out the Mehackit music machine. We built it from solenoids, arduinos and a recycled Samsung printer. The Music machine really caused some bewildered reactions in the crowd! It was a mini-version of a larger installation which we built in the Espoo Museum of Modern Arts earlier this year.

All in all, Mehackit might have been the loudest stand.. coming at least close second to the Virtual Reality rollercoaster simulator!

Thank you Samsung for an amazing Developer Conference. 






04.23.2016 — by Heini Karppinen

Finnish ICT industry leaders tested Mehackit Creative Technology course!

In Categories: In English

@KAlkio: “Excellent Creative Technology workshop @mehackit". 


Mehackit organised a fun day of learning, hacking and making for Finnish ICT leaders. The purpose was to simulate our Creative Technology high school courses and enjoy the maker-side of technology!




The board members of Digi.fi - The Information Technology branch group at The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries were invited to participate in the Mehackit workshop. Or should we say they insisted on getting the workshop, since the CEO's are major technology enthusiasts themselves! The Federation supports technology and programming education in Finnish schools and they will sponsor 10 Mehackit high school courses during 2016-2017. 

We were thankful for this opportunity to get feedback from experienced change makers at large digital companies. Christian Fredrikson, CEO at F-Secure, teamed up with Sami Ensio, CEO at Innofactor, and Kimmo Alkio, CEO at Tieto. Another team was formed by Timur Kärki, CEO at Gofore, Tuomo Haukkovaara, CEO at IBM, and Ville Peltola, director of the branch group. We had a lot of fun together!


@CFredrikson: “Pure fun to build and hack computers with #mehackit wonderful students/teachers and teaming with @samiensio @kalkio".

The day started with some simple programming and electronics exercises such as making a led blink, and quickly moved into building projects in teams. Teams got a task to build sound installations which were later brought together into one big piece of art. In the afternoon we even held a gallery opening ceremony.

Teams ended up naming their installation "IoN - Internet of Noise". The inspiration for the name undoubtedly came from the on-going IoT - Internet of Things -hype. Alkio was satisfied with the course method: “All the elements of digitalization are included in this course: students start to understand how programming is linked to everything!"

Today we built this amazing sound installation with @TechFinland at @Etelaranta - #arduino #genelec #installation pic.twitter.com/g69sjLARBT

— mehackit (@mehackit) April 8, 2016
According to Peltola, digitalization is part of general knowledge in the future and he recommends everyone to familiarize themselves with the maker side of technology. “If it (the maker-side of tech) is not familiar to you by high school age, you should definitely get an introduction to it. And if you get a chance to take this Mehackit course, do it!"

 Knowing the basics will help you use technology as an advantage in any project, job and career. According to Haukkovaara “the best ideas should come from outside of the technology industry. We need more ideas on how to make people’s lives easier."

Sensors, code, music and art are things we love at Mehackit and we are so grateful that the big bosses decided to take this time to build Internet of Noise with us!

To check out how we changed a business conference room into a pop-up maker lab and how one of the CEO’s climb on chairs for the sake of making, watch the video (in Finnish)! We look forward into offering more courses in high schools in Finland and abroad.



04.20.2016 — by Reetta Heiskanen

Mehackit workshop at MilleniumX - register here!

In Categories: In English

Get ready for some epic tunes at MilleniumX on the 22nd of May.





Mehackit will organize three creative technology workshops for 9-16 year olds at the MillenniumX event on the 22nd of May. The workshops will be held by two gurus from our stellar Mehackit team, Otso Sorvettula and Tommi Koskinen.

The participants will code and create their own song with the help of Sonic-Pi which is a Ruby-based program. The developer of Sonic Pi, Sam Aaron, has described Sonic Pi as "a musical instrument that uses code as its interface." We will guide you through Sonic Pi and practice coding together, and you will be creating your own music in no time.

Both beginners and those with previous experience in programming are welcome to participate, and no previous knowledge in music is needed. The learning material and the software used are free and available on the internet, in order for the participants to continue working on their music after the workshop.

The participants are expected to bring their own laptops, learning material is provided in both Finnish and English. The registration will open on the 10th of May and close on the 20th of May. MilleniumX will be organized at Kaapelitehdas, Tallberginkatu 1. 

Register here for one of the workshops! 

10.15 AM – 11.45 AM
https://www.lyyti.fi/reg_2016/Mehackit_tyopaja_I_Musiikki__ohjelmointi_0056

12.00 – 1:30 PM
https://www.lyyti.fi/reg_2016/Mehackit_tyopaja_II_Musiikki__ohjelmointi_1120

2 PM – 3:30 PM
https://www.lyyti.fi/reg_2016/Mehackit_tyopaja_III_Musiikki__ohjelmointi_5368


Tule koodaamaan Mehackitin kanssa MilleniumX -tapahtumaan Kaapelitehtaalla!


Mehackit on mukana MillenniumX -tapahtumassa sunnuntaina 22. toukokuuta luovan teknologian työpajalla Musiikki ja ohjelmointi. Työpaja on sunnattu 9-16-vuotiaille. Opastamme Sonic Pi:n käyttöön, ja jokainen pääsee nopeasti luomaan omaa musiikkia. Mukaan voivat osallistua vasta-alkajat sekä ne, jotka ovat jo ohjelmoineet aikaisemmin.

Oppimisalusta ja käytettävät ohjelmistot ovat netissä, ja harrastusta voi jatkaa ilmaiseksi työpajan jälkeen. Työpajaan osallistuvat tuovat omat läppärit ja kuulokkeet. Materiaali on suomeksi ja englanniksi. Työpajasta vastaavat omat musiikkikoodausgurumme Otso Sorvettula ja Tommi Koskinen. Ilmoittautuminen aukeaa 10.5 ja päättyy 20.5. 

Työpajan jälkeen voit kokeilla myös bändisoittoa Musatornin avulla!

Rekisteröidy tästä yhteen workshopeista:

Klo 10.15 – 11.45
https://www.lyyti.fi/reg_2016/Mehackit_tyopaja_I_Musiikki__ohjelmointi_0056

Klo 12.00 – 13:30 
https://www.lyyti.fi/reg_2016/Mehackit_tyopaja_II_Musiikki__ohjelmointi_1120

Klo 14.00 – 15.30
https://www.lyyti.fi/reg_2016/Mehackit_tyopaja_III_Musiikki__ohjelmointi_5368


MillenniumX Website

MillenniumX Facebook Event



04.19.2016 — by Reetta Heiskanen

Mehackit brings creative technology education to SDC 2016

In Categories: In English

It’s almost time to for the annual Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco! And this year Finnish creative technology education is well represented. 




We’re extremely excited to announce that Mehackit is representing Europe at SDC. The conference will take place on the 27th to 28th of April at Moscone Center and Mehackit will host eight programming workshops for developers and conference-guests. Mehackit partnered with Samsung in November 2014 for a multi-year collaboration. 

“Mehackit will bring a taste of new and creative digital technologies to SDC 2016. Samsung Nordics are proud to contribute to the conference in a fun and exciting way to show how Mehackit inspires children and youth to become digital creators and innovators for the future,” Elin Wallberg, the Head of Nordic Corporate Citizenship at Samsung says. 

CEO at Mehackit, Henrietta Kekäläinen describes that Mehackit is proud to represent Finnish creative technology education at the event. 

“SDC is an amazing opportunity to meet developers from all around the world. On top of this local technology education organisations and maker-circles have been really excited about the Mehackit events that we have held in Northern Europe. It feels great to show people where Linux actually comes from, dressed in a Moomin-dress by IvanaHelsinki!”

Mehackit has partnered with Finnish design brand IvanaHelsinki for SDC 2016. Mehackit will wear the IvanaHelsinki Moomin-collection during the event. Co-Founder at IvanaHelsinki Pirjo Suhonen describes that the decision behind the collaboration with Mehackit was simple.

“There are a lot of similarities in the way Mehackit and IvanaHelsinki think. Both companies do not just do things - we do things really actively, with an emphasis on actually changing the world. The team at Mehackit is not afraid of failure and they are doing really groundbreaking work with Finnish schools”, Pirjo Suhonen says.

After SDC, Mehackit will guide 30 local students from Summit Preparatory Charter High School into the incredible world of creative technology. Mehackit wants to encourage 15-18 year olds to start building technology themselves - to become builders, instead of only users of technology.

Elin Wallberg believes that many of the world's grand challenges can be solved with the help of technology. 

“Technology can contribute to solve many of the world’s challenges, but to do so children and youth need to see the potential of technology. Mehackit provides young people with skills and inspiration needed for the future, to create, to code, to become problem solvers”, Wallberg continues.

We are more than ready for SDC! Follow more updates on our Mehackit Instagram, Facebook and blog.

#mehackit #iheartSDC



04.15.2016 — by Reetta Heiskanen

Hello Stockholm, we are looking for some new talent!

In Categories: In English

Are you interested in educating the youth with technology skills? Would you like to become a Mehackit instructor?





Mehackit organises creative technology courses in high schools in the Nordics. The course gives hands-on skills in technology and programming. 

The first courses in high schools in Stockholm will take place during autumn term 2016 and we are now looking for an enthusiastic instructor from Stockholm area!

Mehackit will train the instructor for the Mehackit material and content of the course. After the training, the instructor (you?) will hold the course in a high school that has been scheduled in advance. You will be working with Sonic Pi, a live coding synth. With Sonic Pi, the students can use code to compose and perform in different contemporary styles.

We will also provide courses in processing and arduino-robotics so here is the possibility for a life-long learning experience.

We're looking for someone with: 
  • Skills and interest in programming (basic knowledge in programming, university course completed/MOOC)
  • Interest to work with 15-18 year olds 
  • Interest in pedagogy and you see its importance
  • Interest in music and music production (for the Sonic Pi course)
  • A creative mindset and fluent Swedish skills and good English skills
  • The ability to describe central concepts of programming in a fun way
Is it you that we are describing here? Send us a short application in Swedish or English at jobs@mehackit.org :) 

What: Half-time Mehackit instructor, Stockholm area, paid
When: Autumn term 2016
What to do?: Send us an application now and become our first ever Mehackit instructor in Sweden and part of the stellar Mehackit-team <3



02.01.2016 — by Reetta Heiskanen

Norwich high schoolers composing epic tunes with code

In Categories: In English
Mehackit, Seriously and the Norwich City Football Club organised a hackathon filled with music and programming for 11-14 old students from schools in Norwich. And what a day it was!








The hackday was organised together with Seriously entertainment, their Best Fiends game and Norwich City Football Club. Through the event Mehackit and Seriously wanted to draw attention towards the importance of technology education in our youth.

“At Mehackit, we feel that self-confidence around technology is one of the tools needed for the unpredictable future”, Henrietta Kekäläinen, the CEO at Mehackit describes. 

Oskar Martin, 13 and Declam Hibbard, 13 from the Lynn Grove Academy really enjoyed trying out programming with the help of Sonic Pi. With Sonic Pi you can use code to compose and perform in classical and contemporary styles. 

"Trying out different samples is so much fun. This is the first time I'm trying this", Oskar comments. 

By early afternoon Laila Jacobs, 13 and Kayla Lambert, 12 have already programmed six different samples and beats.

"It is quite simple to follow the instructions but I feel like you get to be really creative. Like in this one we used the sounds of forest as an inspiration. I have never tried anything like this before", Kayla says. 

Laila thinks that there should be more technology education in high schools in the UK.

"I mean I use these things everyday. It's fun to build something yourself and it would be great to do it in school", she says. 

The Mehackit curriculum designer Otso Sorvettula was really excited about the way the 11-14 year old students tried out things. 

"It is really encouraging to see their ethusiasm and energy. When the students have gotten an idea, they have been eager to try it out. And then usually on the way they have found something totally new and exciting."

You can listen to the songs programmed by students in Norwich schools on our Soundcloud page. Check it out and stay tuned for some new Mehackit News!