Plant Yourself in STEM: My school is running Hour of Code!

And I’m involved!

I was a volunteer last year, too. It was a very popular and successful program, so we’re doing it again this year–only now we’re not only full but overflowed. Originally, we were supposed to run the program on Saturday, 12/12. But we’ve got two more schools who want to send their classes, and they didn’t want to do Saturday because it’s not a school day (by the time they’d heard, Saturday was full anyway), so we’re running on Friday too. In total, we have 105 people coming. It’s really exciting!

I’m going to be there both days. On the first day, I’ll be talking to 35 7th-9th graders about Linux and helping them figure out some basics like how to install stuff and where the web browser is. Maybe I can fit in a few command line tricks, too. I’ll be putting up an FAQ on this blog for them later. We’re doing it off a bunch of live CDs that Raine’s going to burn. And the “we” is kind of questionable–I may be handling that event on my own because volunteers for Friday are harder to get since some of our Saturday volunteers have to work.

On the second day, I’ll be helping with the actual Hour of Code event, which will be attended by 70 people (!). It’s totally booked, so we have to make sure every computer works that we can and see that there are no problems logging on. I think we’re getting an older group this year. We had a lot of kids last year–like, younger grade-school kids, starting out at maybe seven years old? And they did really well. I wonder if the older kids will get bored more easily. Some of those seven-year-olds whipped through like five Hour of Code activities and then looked at me and went, “What next?”

Hopefully if that happens, we can just send them up to look at our Oculus Rift and Google Glass and Raspberry Pis and some other neat gadgets we have. Or one of the other events… demos… activities… panels?… whatever. We were discussing an activity on how to make crossover cable, too, but I don’t know if we’re doing it–both because of price with how many people are coming, and with the fact that making crossover cable can be really bloody frustrating. And I think Raine is going to do another Linux event on Saturday. I’d be helping her, but Hour of Code needs programmer assistants, and Raine’s more than capable of handling the Linux panel on her own.

They didn’t really give me specific instructions on what to teach in the Linux thing. I’m going to run one of my VMs and see what I can come up with–it has to be doable on a live CD, not overly difficult, and not have a ton of room to make trouble or get off track. For example, showing where the browser is will come last. Someone will probably figure it out anyway and start messing around on the Internet–I’ll have to get them back on track. And someone will stop listening to me and start just exploring the system–I’m not going to stop them. Proto-hackers 😉

I guess they trust me enough to just send me off and trust that I know what I’m doing and will whip up something decent without a bunch of guidance. Or they didn’t think about it, but that’s ok because I’ll do just fine on my own.

I think I should draft my FAQ and the activity outline now.

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