New group of Buffalo Grove scouts honor math, science
Members of Hacker Scouts of Buffalo Grove work on a snap circuit at the Buffalo Grove Youth Center on Jan. 20. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Buffalo Grove’s Hacker Scout club is already at its maximum registration of 15 students.
“We had to close it, because it was a large number,” Tara Lenga said. “We have a waiting list.” To join that list, visit the group’s website at chicagogiftedcommunity.org/Default.aspx?pageId=1481754. Lenga said the next registration period will begin this summer.
BUFFALO GROVE — It is, in essence, Boy and Girl Scouts for science, computer and math kids – and it is no longer such a long drive.
A new chapter of a growing national organization called Hacker Scouts held its first meeting on Sunday in Buffalo Grove. Tara Lenga, one of the group’s organizers, said about 15 kids came out for the chance to turn the academic subjects of the future into a social opportunity for the present.
“We’re going to try to see if we can make a group survive here,” Lenga said. “The process has been interesting, because there’s no real manual. We’re creating a manual as we go.”
Hacker Scouts is an educational group for boys and girls ages 7 to 12 who want to learn more outside their classrooms about science and engineering through activities with like-minded students; by completing tasks, the kids earn badges and, hopefully, gain skills. At future meetings, the “sparks” (a Hacker Scout member) will problem-solve together, learn science terms, work with robotics and catapults, program a quick-response code and go geocaching.
The national Hacker Scout organization is not affiliated with Boy or Girl Scouts, and Lenga stressed that the group does not teach computer hacking. At the first meeting, held at the Buffalo Grove Youth Center, 50 Raupp Blvd., the crew snapped circuit boards together, which powered the machines they were making to fly.
This and other local chapters are organized through the Chicago Gifted Community Center.
“They are calling it Scouts 2.0,” Lenga said. “The people that developed it liked what was happening with scouting, but wanted to go in a different direction. Hopefully, it’ll be a learning opportunity for the kids to use their scientific and creative sides, to do things locally with other kids who like what they do.”
Lenga said the initial group of volunteers range from recent high school graduates to professionals. They came together, they said, as the word about Hacker Scouting spread to the northwest suburbs, but parents of potential “sparks” found that the nearest club was down in Oak Park.
“I was really bummed, because I couldn’t drive my kids down there,” Lenga said. “I wanted to start a group, because they’re too far.”
That group is now off and running, and building, and coding and solving.
“It’s a balance between fun and learning.”