8 year old bGeigie Builder

We have a new record: Our youngest bGeigie builder ever!

While we’ve organized and helped with many workshops for children future scientists around the world, we usually focus on the science behind community environmental monitoring and very easy and quick kit builds. Building a bGeigie is a serious time and mental commitment that can often take an adult builder a whole weekend to complete, we tell people to budget in 5-6 hours at least. Having grown up around Safecast, Ripley recently decided he was up to the task of building a bGeigie himself, from scratch. At only 8 years old, this would make him the youngest person to attempt the build by almost 5 years. Last week at our office in Tokyo after a brief “how to solder” lesson, he jumped head first into the deep end.

After about 3 hours he got to the crucial “plug in the battery, turn it on, and see what mistakes you’ve made” stage which has been known to result in head scratching and scrunched eyebrows while trying to find which solder joint is shorting or isn’t connected completely. We braced ourselves, warned him it might not work, and that was OK. Instead this happened: 

It worked! And after a short lunch break, and another hour or so of larger parts assembly it was complete. When asked about the experience, Ripley says “It was pretty hard, but also pretty fun. If you want to build one you shouldn’t expect it to be finished really quickly, so make sure to take your time and do it right. It’s also a really good way to learn how to solder, because there is a lot of soldering!” He added that he’s excited about carrying his bGeigie around to show off to people and help measure radiation with Safecast.

People often ask us how old someone needs to be to try and build this kit and we say anyone who wants to can do it, and we think this is pretty good proof of that. Congratulations Ripley!

About the Author

Sean Bonner

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Sean Bonner is a co-founder and Global Director of Safecast. Based in Tokyo, he's an Associate Professor at Keio University and an Associate Researcher at the Center For Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab.