Magazine article District Administration

Lasers, Electronics and Robotics at the STEAM Carnival

Magazine article District Administration

Lasers, Electronics and Robotics at the STEAM Carnival

Article excerpt

A carnival with a twist is coming to the West coast this spring. Instead of eating cotton candy and riding Ferris wheels, students will navigate a laser maze and measure their strength in volts--all while learning engineering skills.

The STEAM Carnival was created by Two Bit Circus, a Los Angeles-based engineering and entertainment company that creates high-tech games for clients like Intel and the arcade restaurant Dave & Buster's. "We realized that kids don't want to be engineers, which doesn't make sense to us--because we have a blast building games for a living," says Brent Bushnell, CEO of Two Bit Circus. The carnival is meant to demonstrate a fun side of engineering that's "less like a science fair and more like a rock concert." And, the art component of STEAM makes it accessible for students who are intimidated by science and engineering, he says.

The carnival will arrive in Los Angeles and San Francisco this spring, and its large game machines will be set up in a location outside of schools. Students will be bused to the carnival site on a Friday, and it will be open to the public the next two days.

The more than 30 games will include a "a mash-up between Whack-A-Mole and Twister" in which students recreate a pattern of lights on a wall by hitting buttons with different parts of their body. The game design demonstrates basic electronics and microcontrollers, Bushnell says.

In another room, students use geometry to get through a maze of laser beams. …

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