This past month, a significant project spearheaded by outgoing Maker VISTA member Blair McAvoy excitingly came to fruition. This project originally started as a summer camp in June 2017, during which Blair facilitated a partnership between C4K and UVA Engineering’s Technology Leaders Program and UVA’s Brown College (which puts on a huge, famous haunted house every year) to create a haunted smart house. TLP Professor Reid Bailey led a two week camp in June where C4K’s youth members formed a “design firm” for the “client,” Brown College. Their job was to design a high-tech room to feature in Brown’s annual Hauntings on the Hill, an event that raises thousands of dollars for charity every year. The members used innovative design processes and prototyped throughout the two week camp, and ended up with an abandoned fairground theme. Throughout the summer and fall, members continued to work on the haunted house, and when UVA’s semester started, Blair and Professor Bailey brought on board about 12 TLP students to help with the technology. The event was held Friday and Saturday October 27 and 28 from 7pm-10pm at Brown College at UVA.
The C4K team’s room featured a lighted “Deathland” entrance sign, which used Arduino to look like it was flickering; a haunted ticket booth, where a coin inserted into a slot hit a laser tripwire that turned on the lights in the booth; a “height check,” made from a foam table saw that cuts some off the top if you are a little too tall to enter the park, and which featured a button-activated motor that would spin the blade and play a saw sound effect; a haunted fortuneteller hologram which used an ultrasonic sensor to trigger and issue pre-programmed (scary or horrible) fortunes; and a corrupted concessions stand with a working blood fountain, a handburger, and frog guts. Four youth members even acted in the event. The room — and project experience — was wonderfully successful, in that the young makers felt accomplished, visible, and joyful.
Read more about this super cool (and spooky) project in this featured article.