BERKELEY -- Bay Area teens combined high tech and low tech at the Lawrence Hall of Science Saturday, and the results were pretty darn amazing.

The teen interns from the TechHive lab at UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science showed off their technology-based exhibits and demonstrations created with a range of digital media, hardware and software tools, as well as decidedly low-tech items such as bikes and shoes.

Launched in 2013, the TechHive Studio is the newest of the Hall of Science's three teen internship programs open to Bay Area high school students. The program builds on the make-it-yourself movement, while helping teens get excited about science, math and technology in school. The inaugural group is made up of 27 students from across the East Bay who meet on weekends at the science museum. They work with engineering students from UC Berkeley and staff from the Hall of Science to develop the various projects that were on display.

A project known as the bike simulator gives a stationary cyclist the feeling of being outdoors by creating a virtual tour of the neighborhood around Oakland's Lake Merritt. The pedaling action of the bicyclist rotates a drum outfitted with miniature replicas of buildings and landmarks that are attached with low-tech Velcro. A camera behind the drum is activated and the images captured by the camera are projected onto a wall.

"It makes it more interesting with the camera," said Ethan Smith, who attends Oakland Tech. "A lot of our projects try to take something and build it into a physical thing, but also look at how technology can make it better."


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Garrett Yakushiji, a 15-year-old Richmond resident who attends El Cerrito High School, also was on the team of interns who worked on the bike simulator project.

"This is our first analog project, the first one with no computers," he said of the ingredients that included an old bike and wooden components.

Nikita Gupta, 15, a student at Irvington High School in Fremont, used shoes to show how circuitry works.

"Every time you take a step, it lights up," she said. "The reason it does this is that there are ball bearings that move down and complete the circuit. This is really a fun way to spice up your everyday items such as shoes and make them really colorful."

The pre-college design and engineering internship program is geared toward high school students who have an interest in science, but a science background is not a requirement, said Sherry Hsi, leader of the TechHive program and a research director at the Hall of Science.

Located in the Hall's original amphitheater, the TechHive Studio makes it possible for participating teens to explore new ideas, figure out design challenges and make prototype projects while using a wide range of technologies, she said. Funding is provided by Oracle and Motorola Solutions Foundations.

"We want to give kids an authentic experience with hands-on science, engineering and computers," said Hsi.

For more information about teen internship programs offered at the Hall of Science, go to www.lawrencehallofscience.org/get_involved/join_our_team/teen_interns.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.