The Tech Bandits Strike Back

Tech Bandits Feb 28 2020


Hello Tech Bandits Family and Friendlies!

We got a bit of a kick in the “nerds” this week!   I was informed that we are unable to continue with The Tech Bandits lunch Club… at least until these wretched Teacher-Government negotiations are sorted!? 
Hello Darkness my old friend
Due to current strike action rules, our fabulous Mr. “Video” Vida cannot be present for our lunch sessions.  Apparently, without a member of staff present, even though Mike and I would be happy to handle it, we aren’t allowed to host the club at the school.

Unfortunately my FanCave lair is just a bit too far for school for it to make sense having the Bandits traipse  over here for lunchtime Banditry…not if we still want to have time to do much of anything, plus there’s the logistics of signing out 10 kids…so that’s out!  We may be down, but we’re not out yet! 

I’m working on hosting some future FanCave based banditry, as we’ve done on previous strike days, but still have to figure out the details.  Just gotta plow my way through the Ministry of Education’s scintillating Before-and-After School Program Licensing Guideline! 😉
Reading Dawg
Last week, “Shredder” Mike and I hosted a number of the Bandits in my FanCave Lair.  It was the usual rewardingly crazed and random selection of pursuits.  Judging by the limping and pained expression, the Bandits could learn a lot about how muscles work…or don’t…by looking at medical imaging of Mike’s skiing injury…especially after the number of times he had to climb my basement stairs!  

That man definitely earned his pizza!  And Yes, there was pizza…glorious pizza too!  You’re mad, Mike, but thank you, we do so appreciate you helping out every week!
Not Mike Skiing
Here’s the rundown of the wild and random Banditry we got ourselves into:

We started out with a few Tech Autopsies… where we discovered the insane amount of tiny screws that hold together the innards of the old original XBox Rockstar Guitar.  We think it was worth the effort though, because we found a mini Xbox controller board, a bluetooth card and some really cool magnetic (we think) sensors inside.

Plus, we had roving BanditCam reporters covering all the action!
Bandits dis-assemble
Guitar Heroics
Guitar Hero
There was a lot of intense examination of the various cards and circuit boards removed from one of our larger printers…an expansion board was discovered and much debate as to why a printer might need more memory.  We decided that since this printer was older and seemed more complex than the newer ones, perhaps it stored the things it was going to print in the printer itself?  These Bandits are good…too good!
Bandits Examining printer expansion card
Deep in the guts of printers
Bandit VS. Printer
Then, ignoring the cries of complaint from a couple of Yeast-smell-fearing Bandits, I got us some sugar, a thermometer, some baker’s yeast and we hit the bio-bench!
Bio Bench victims
We mixed warm water…but no so host as to kill the yeast beasts…that’s what we used the thermometer for…along with the yeast and their favourite food, sugar… and then we stepped back and watched them them go…

Well, nothing much happened.  Possibly because the Yeast was beyond its sell-by date…not enough sugar, or too cold water…but for the record it really does stink!  We still threw it all under the microscope to have a closer look anyway!

Many of the Bandits were fans of this whole microscopic view of the world, so we started throwing anything else we could find under the lens. Fabric fragments, a slide of cricket legs and antennae we found in a geek trash recovered starter microscope kit…we even tried a finger…but that was hard, not just because it still attached to the Bandit… turns out our super-powered clinic microscope needs to shine light through specimens…and there was no way light was getting through any of our chunky digits! 

A highlight:  Casper the Gecko periodically sheds his skin…and I save it for exactly this kind of thing…and as it turns out to gross out Bandits…here’s our microscopic view of the ever-expanding Casper the Gecko’s old skin cells:

How about our own skin cells…this is from the Internet…I draw the line at skinning Tech Bandits! ;-). It looks to me that unlike our Casper skin sample, these have been stained with dye in order to see more detail.  What do you think of the little dots in the center?  Any ideas what they could be?

I had no idea that this microscope thing was going to be so popular with them.  It’s an advantage of having the kids here… they can find all sorts of stuff to play with and I can roll with what they each show an interest in!  The fact is, I’m so excited about their reactions that I’m going to look into investing in a library of microscope slides and some rough and ready hand-held magnifiers for the Bandits to experiment with in the future!  What else would be cool to look at under the microscope?

And then the wheels fell off!?  No, I jest… but the Bandits certainly started taking the Bandits Strike Back very literally!  And out came the lightsabers…

To be fair these “Ultrasabres” are pretty amazing geek toys. I had them crack one open so they could see how they use a tiny, ingenious, little, custom sound and sensor control board that’s been dipped in liquid plastic and fitted into a metal handle along with a rechargeable battery pack to power some super bright LEDs that illuminate a polycarbonate tube with the help of a mirror in the tip…it all comes together to create an awesome noisy, force for cool!

But the Bandits proved their mettle!  They didn’t just attack each other like young savages with these fabulous weapons…well, not much…they attacked each other on camera! …first working out some dramatic dialogue, camera angles and blocking (movie talk for where they stand and move in a scene), that lead up to a fight sequence worthy of even the most epic of Marvel films!

Looks like The Bandits are going Hollywood!  In a dream world each Bandit had a little gopro or the like camera to use throughout the sessions.  I’ve found that many kids that prefer to hang around in the background rather than diving straight in to Banditry, tend to take to the filming side of things.  I’ve been very  excited to see how quick they are in learning  how to document their fellow Bandit’s experiments and projects, as well as use them for more creative pursuits like remaking Star Wars…again!?  We should also consider exploring the editing and post production side of things as well…something Video Vida had been doing last year….and the whole film thing is something that I have a “little” experience with so I might have a bit to add to the mix! Lights, Camera, Bandits!

So another amaze-messy session of Banditry!  I do have a few cool, sciencey Techletts for you, but as this is already late in coming and far too  long…I’ll save them for next time!
I will be hosting a live Stargate watch-party on Twitch, Sunday @1pm EST if anyone wants to join us.  It’s a way of saying thanks to all the Patreon patrons and those that have donated to the Tech Bandits cause! :
Remember to stay curious!


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Curiosity is contagious. Tech Bandits is about inspiring excitement and passion for Science Technology, Engineering Arts and Math.  Our club is a magnificent, mad, mess of curiosity driven exploration that follows random inspiring STEAM connections…often with a focus on assistive tech.  Adaptive, and rehabilitative systems, for people with disabilities or the elderly, include a ton of crazy, cool, innovative, inspirations, including robotics, biotech, chemistry, programming, big data, AI, design and so much more… plus the Bandits really respond well to seeing the direct connection between the technologies they’re playing with and improving their fellow human’s lives. 

Contagious Curiosity – Inspired, Lifelong Learning

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