Stichting SCN is a really cool non-profit organization I want to tell you about.
Like some of you, I was the kind of kid who dismantled every device I could get my hands on, trying to figure out how those worked. I read encyclopedias, books on computers and electronics, wrote simple Visual Basic programs and was very lucky because I got a LEGO Mindstorms set for my 10th birthday.
But doing all this is not considered ‘cool’: fellow classmates played soccer, hung around in town or watched TV. One or two friends also liked gadgets and some scripting, but nothing too serious. I was in need for something more organized. I joined a local woodworking club, and it was nice to be busy with that. But I couldn’t believe my ears when the lecturer told me there was something similar for electronics, computers, and more: De Jonge Onderzoekers Groningen (the Young Scientists).
So I joined the JOG and it was really great. There were all kinds of ‘sections’, like electronics and computers, but also woodworking, metalworking, jewlery, and more. I learned much about electronics: fiddled with microcontrollers, soldered, built my own circuit boards, and even learned how to design them. It’s really great to find other people who’re alike. After a few years I became a volunteer myself at the electronics section.
A few years ago we – being the volunteers of the electronics and computer section – had a disagreement with the management, so we went and started our own organization focused on computers, electronics, robotics, mechanics and photography. Stichting Science Center Noord (SCN) was born! We started off in a boat, with limited resources, because everything was self-funded. We stayed for a few months and had a small but devoted community of kids and volunteers.
But the boat went sailing! So we went off to a better place, a building that previously housed an Italian restaurant. With help of the kids we fixed the place, and with some donations we finally had a really cool ‘tech youth center’. Every Wednesday evening, Friday evening and Saturday we build cool things: be it a Tennis for Two clone, simple games or robots.
I’m still a volunteer and will be for a while, as it has been an important part of my life and still is. Also, the volunteers are quite remarkable: they all work hard and are skilled at their jobs, but still they can find the time – every week – to have fun with the kids and teach them their skills, for free.
So, do drop by when you happen to be in the Groningen area! Next month is the ‘Oktober Kennismaand’, a month with all kinds of science activities in the Netherlands. Roeland, the founder of SCN, did a great job on getting us on top of the list.
Also, as a non-profit organization, we’re still pretty much self-funded, so any donations would be great. Materialistic donations such as tables, chairs, couches, computer and electronics hardware, etc would be awesome too!
To conclude, I’d like to share with you some simple electronic circuits we use to introduce youth to soldering and programming. Have fun with it, although it is in Dutch! Download