Safecast Summer Workshops Introduce Kids to Virtual Geiger Counters

Image from a previous Safecast Mori Kids’ Mirai Summer Camp Workshop at Roppongi Hills. The kids who participated learned how to build a Geiger counter, how to measure radiation, and what radiation is all about.

Two summer workshops this year gave children hands-on science experience through building a Geiger counter. This year’s events included the chance to make a virtual version of Safecast’s kGeigie. 

Safecast partnered with Panasonic’s AkeruE Creative Museum and Mori Building and offered two online summer workshops for children this year. As a result, they, and their parents, had the opportunity to build their very own virtual Geiger counters. 

Sensors for the Invisible World

One of the core aspects of Safecast’s work is making the invisible visible. In our everyday lives, we are surrounded by a lot of important information or data that is not visible to the naked eye.

Some of that information relates to our health. For example, the quality of the air we breathe or the potential levels of radioactivity that we encounter.

Workshops have been a major activity for Safecast. At first, they were aimed at adults and mainly focused on building Geiger counters. Over time, we expanded to events tailored to high school students, and then children.  

For children, we developed a special re-usable kit, the kGeigie. This kit has been central to our summer workshops, including the Mori Kids Summer Science Workshops we have held every year since 2015. 

All past summer workshops for children were in-person. Unfortunately, due to corona, none were held in 2020, but we decided to do online versions this year.

The online summer workshops aim to provide children, and their parents, with a way to access the otherwise invisible data for themselves. Simultaneously, they get hands-on experience with turning science from ideas and theory into something practical and useable.

Making Informed Decisions

The goal of Safecast’s summer workshops is also to lessen the mysteries and misunderstandings that surround things like radioactivity or air quality. The workshops gave participants a feel for how radiation flows around us, how it is not always dangerous and can sometimes be helpful.

Furthermore, it shows how to map data collected by citizen scientists worldwide can form a unique insight into the state of radiation across much of our planet.

This communal approach to data gathering also provides a way to fact-check information and data from other sources, including governmental organisations and private companies.

Going Virtual

A screenshot of Safecast’s TinkerCad virtual Geiger counter board.

This year’s events were made extra special by being online instead of in-person. Thanks to the circuit design module of TinkerCad, and the great work by Safecast’s Rob Oudendjik, who figured out how to create the virtual boards needed, participants could design a virtual Geiger counter online.

As with the live Safecast workshops, the event consisted of several modules: introduction to radiation science; an introduction to Safecast and what we do; and building the virtual kGeigie. The workshop was held using Zoom and Tinkercad online together. The problems were only with logging into Tinkercad.

The experience went well, and working with Tinkerpad was smooth, with everyone having a great time. About 20 participants attended the Mori Building online event, and the two AkeruE sessions saw seven and five participants, respectively. 

“I was impressed with TinkerCad capabilities to show the progress of the students in real-time to the teacher in one dashboard and also be able to go into the works of the students and help them to move parts in real-time. They could see me moving the parts, which was very impressive,” Rob Oudendjik says.

The Creative Side of Science

The AkeruE event cover photo.

Mori Building has partnered with Safecast on kid’s workshops since 2015, and we are deeply thankful for their continued collaboration and support. The same goes for AkeruE, which is a new Safecast partner. AkeruE is a fabulous hands-on science museum located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Panasonic Center Tokyo in Ariake. 

Finally, we want to give a big shout out to Loftwork, which plans and directs AkeruE and approached us with the idea of doing a workshop there.