By Ellie Shalvarjian
For many people, technology can be confusing and expensive. However, for students at Mira Costa, Geek Club acknowledges this fact and makes it their goal to help. Geek Club hosted its first “Halloween Maker Fair” to spark interest in technology and help Syrian youth on October 29th after school in the library from 3-5pm.
Geek Club was originally founded by Mira Costa teacher-librarian Jane Lofton in the 2011-2012 school year, and is now run by co-presidents senior Griffin Heier and senior Shivain Chopra. The club meets every Friday to talk about 3D printers, new technology, and opportunities to develop creative skills.
“I believed that there was a definite need among students, staff, and parents in our community for tech help with software and hardware, and that there are also a lot of tech savvy students at Mira Costa,” Lofton said. “Establishing a Geek Club would provide help to those who needed it and allow tech savvy students to provide support and further develop those skills.”
The “Halloween Maker Fair” included several stations some of which were 3D printing, picmonkey, an online photo editing site, Google Cardboard, a virtual reality headset, littlebits, models for technology, and tinkercad, a 3D design tool. Although the fair intended to create an enjoyable atmosphere, the “Halloween Maker Fair’s” alternative purpose was to help Syrian youth.
“We are participating in the ‘Healing Classrooms Challenge’ from the Beznos Family Foundation and the International Rescue Committee,” Lofton said. “For each pinwheel we make and send in, the Bezos Family Foundation will donate $2 to International Rescue Committee’s ‘Healing Classrooms’ program to help displaced Syrian youth.”
At the fair, the Geek Club offered was a station where attendees could make something online and print it on one of the club’s 3D printers. Attendees created things like keychains and Halloween-related objects on TinkerCad and sent them to the printers.
“The 3D printers have opened up another creative avenue for students at Costa,” Chopra said. “They can use them to design school projects or even develop ideas of their own.”
In addition, Geek Club offered a Google Cardboard station. Google Cardboard is a low-cost virtual reality headset that works just with a phone. The headset allows people to take 3D visits to sites using virtual reality for not much money.
“Google Cardboard is cool because it allows the user to interact with the image he or she sees,” Heier said. “What I think is most exciting about that is that some companies spent a lot of money on similar technology, and Google did it for under $10.”
Also, students who attended the event had a chance to use PicMonkey. Students took pictures of themselves and edited them with zombies, monsters, ghosts, and other Halloween effects. Once the students were done creating their photo, they were able to print it and take it home.
“I like Picmonkey because it offers students, teachers, and anyone else free, online software for editing photos and adding special effects,” Lofton said. “We live in a visual world, and being able to create and incorporate effective graphics into presentations, websites, blogs, and more is a valuable skill.”
According to Chopra, the club’s goal is to get people interested in electronics and to help people who problems with technology so they can use it more resourcefully. The club plans to host another fair in December before winter break.
“Members have the opportunity to explore and learn new skills, such as how to model for and run our 3D printers, while also offering tech support help to support our community,” Lofton said. “It’s a great combination of learning and service!”