Armed with an extensive engineering background, Mike Hinkle spent 10 years mentoring high school students in areas of math, science and engineering. After some time, however, Hinkle said he saw an issue with how some of his students were learning.
"I wanted to help the kids do more exciting and challenging things," he said. "While it was clear these students were smart, they were turned off to learning."
In 2010, Hinkle—along with his wife, Jeanette Breton—began working on a business model to help bring innovation, creativity and learning into the same space. After a year of brainstorming, the couple opened Techno Chaos in Sugar Land in June 2011.
"This is a place we created so all youth who may not get these services through traditional schooling can have a place to learn and create," Hinkle said. "So much of education today is focused on the who, what, when and where. We are all about the why and the how. That is our passion, and we have a commitment to our youth, to the future and to the community."
Hinkle and others like him refer to the advancing technology industry as a "maker movement," or a return to the traditional ways of creating innovative products and ideas based on hands-on interaction.
"[Making] is a big, general topic," Hinkle said. "It is about getting people back to doing things. We have become a nation of consumers, but America became great by people working, innovating and creating things. This business is a coupling of small-scale initiatives and high-purpose creativity."
In the past three years, Techno Chaos has continued to expand its course offerings. What started as basic summer sessions where children could participate in hands-on learning has evolved into an array of programs and pathways open to everyone age 18 and under.
Although Techno Chaos has remained focused on its summer offerings, an important part of the business has been about growing its services and target audience, Hinkle said.
"We wanted to have a model that can expand rapidly," he said. "Technology is ramping up and accelerating, so we believe in following the technology curve. We try to capture the leading edge of technology and make it accessible. A lot of kids see everything technological as magic. We want to show them how it works to help stimulate their learning."
A few of the more recent program additions include 3-D printing and scanning, computer programming and computer-controlled machinery, such as the popular "battle bots." As the level of business continues to advance, Techno Chaos is looking to launch more programs aimed at home-schooled students, corporate team building and adult education.
"We think what we are doing here is valuable to our future," Hinkle said. "As kids, we are learning machines, and we want to do things with what we learn. We believe all humans are happiest when they are learning and creating."
Summer Break at Techno Chaos
Techno Chaos offers summer camp classes for children 18 and under from June 2–Aug. 22. Courses range from mechanics to computer programming and are separated by topic and age group. Costs range from $250–$1,500.
Course offerings include:
FUNdamentals Chaos I
Students work together to learn how to use simple machines—pulleys, levers, gears and motors—through various challenges.
FUNdamentals Chaos II
Students can learn about engineering and how to program and build motors and sensors.
Students participate in projects by creating their own games with a focus on introductory programming.
For the Love of Minecraft
Students learn about computer skills, Internet awareness, graphic design, 3-D printing, animation, mapping and basic automation.
It is important to keep your mind active not just while in school, but throughout your entire life. This is the message behind Techno Chaos in Sugar Land. Whether participating in a series of brain-strengthening activities or working on a
full-scale battle robot, the business teaches its students to combine the worlds of science, math and creativity through different pathways.
7320 Hwy. 90, Ste. 210
Sugar Land 281-410-1768
Hours: Fri.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sun. Noon–6 p.m.