Hak4Kidz: Ethical Hacking Conference for Kids

We took the kids to a conference called Hak4Kidz that was organized for youth this past Saturday. Hak4Kidz is an event of ethical hackers and Information Security professionals dedicated to bring the educational and communal benefits of whitehat hacking conferences to children and young adults. IMG_2269 The day-long conference which took place in downtown Chicago, included speakers, workshops and hands-on labs.
IMG_2273 Keynote speaker at the opening of the conference was 16 year-old Austin Valleskey who developed websites and apps, one of which was downloaded more than 1 million times, since the age of 10.

If you’d like to attend any of the workshops you have to sign up at the time of the registration. For some workshops, you need a laptop, whose specs are provided on the website. We signed my son up for only one workshop. My daughter was too young for the workshops but she had great time at the hands-on labs. There were about 7 labs, which you need to work at and get stamps to get a prize.

Best lab in my opinion was the “technology destruction” lab. There were 10s of old electronics and tools to open them up. Old phones, keyboards, remote controls, you name it. I think kids spent the longest time here disassembling the electronics. They had to find the specific electronic parts and components shown on a diagram. Then they had to close them back up before leaving the station.

Sumo bot fights with @mybotspot. #h4k2016 @hak4kidz A post shared by Practical Mama (@practicalmama) on

“Sumo bots” were the second favorite lab. Kids built their customized bots to wrestle with other kids’ bots.

Kids built little race carts made up of rat traps at “STEHM station”. They are no strangers to “lockpicking village” as they’ve seen and tried it at the Makers Faire last year. “Snap circuits lab” was guided and it was fun. We have snap circuits at home and need to encourage the kids to play with them more. Hopefully, this lab will remind them how fun it is.

My son attended the “How to create an iOS app” workshop. There were also a “race quadcopter building” and “webhacking exposed” workshops.

With all these labs, workshops and presentations, kids had a flavor of each aspect of the science and technology field. Whether it’s identifying what they like among various options or developing on a specific interest the conference had a spectrum of activities, age appropriate, properly timed and well organized.

I listened to some of the speakers as kids played through hands on labs by themselves. There were really interesting subjects such as reverse engineering the code of life and innovation nation.
At the end of the conference, there was a drawing and almost every kid got a prize. My son and daughter got books.

IMG_2466The old electronics which kids were disassembling and reassembling at the destruction lab.
IMG_2290-001Sumo bot fights were the rage.

IMG_2277Pac Man arcade machine was a hit.

Hak4Kidz operates as a public charity registered with the IRS under 501(c)(3) regulations. If your child is into computers, coding and electronics, I highly recommend the annual conference which is held in many major cities in the Midwest, Toronto and also in Ghent, Belgium.

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