Eight Great Sci-Tech Experiences to Celebrate Hanukkah!

December 16, 2014Greg Kellner

At URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, a Reform Jewish summer camp outside Boston, Jewish campers spend their summer exploring robotics, video game design, environmental science, digital media, and other fun activities. Camp may be out of session for the winter, but Hanukkah offers a perfect time to meld our favorite things: science, technology, and, of course, Judaism! The Sci-Tech staff has put together a list of eight fun, sci-techie ways to celebrate Hanukkah. Enjoy!

  1. Make a Droidel. How excited were you when the Millennium Falcon appeared on the trailer for the new Star Wars film? In anticipation of this incredible new film and the Hanukkah season, may we introduce you to… The Droidel! Part droid, part dreidel, this DIY paper dreidel is fun for everyone in your family to build! All you need is a printer, scissors and a pen. (There’s an Android app for a different kind of Droidel, too.)
  2. Build your own LED menorah. Who said your DIY menorah has to be made of bolts and bottle caps? Not us! This menorah-making kit from Evil Mad Scientist allows you to use LEDs, batteries, breadboards, and a little programming to design your own electric hanukkiyah. The kit can be purchased in solder and non-solder versions, so it’s friendly for all ages, although a bit of technical knowledge is required. 
  3. Print a dreidel… in 3D! Check out a 3D template of a dreidel from a site like Thingiverse, which allows you to add your own designs or even put your name on your dreidel. Now you’re wondering, “How do I print this if I don't have a 3D printer?!” Check with your local Staples or Fedex/Kinko’s; many locations already have these fancy new printers in-store. You can also check with a service like Shapeways, which will print your awesome design for you. Get your design started today!
  4. Light your menorah in Minecraft. Video game junkies can invite friends into their Minecraft world to build a menorah together. Once you’ve built it, re-visit your video game world each night to add an additional flame to the virtual menorah. Hanukkah means rededication, and commemorates the rededication of the Temple after it was destroyed. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can rededicate a virtual Temple by building it in Minecraft!
  5. Play a game (or eight!) of Super Dreidel. Don’t have a dreidel on hand? Never fear, Super Dreidel is here! This app, made for iPhone and iPad, provides two different styles of dreidel game play and can track the gelt of up to eight people. It’s perfect for your next spontaneous Hanukkah party.
  6. Give great gifts. The science and technology lovers in your life will go crazy for Hanukkah gifts from sites like ThinkGeek.com. The Star Trek fan in your life will love pretending to be Leonard Nimoy in a Star Trek uniform hoodie. Did you know that the famous hand symbol that goes along with the Star Trek line "Live long and prosper" came from Nimoy's Jewish upbringing? It’s the sign used by rabbis for the traditional priestly benediction! ThinkGeek also has a Back to the Future Flux Capacitor car charger, a Minecraft backpack, and a Tetris LED desk lamp… to name a few.
  7. Support science and technology. On one night of Hanukkah, forego gifts and instead honor a friend or family member by making a donation to an innovative organization shaping the future of science and technology. The Technion, Hadassah Medical Center, and Kibbutz Lotan are all great Israeli/Jewish organizations making strides in science and tech. You can also support sci-tech-loving summer campers by making a gift to kick-start the scholarship fund URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy.  
  8. Give the gift summer camp! Register your child today for an inspiring summer at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy or another Reform Jewish summer program. First-time campers can take advantage of incentives of up to $1.000 at OneHappyCamper.org.

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