I used to go to SIGGRAPH back in the ’90s where some of the graphics geeks would put together interactive exhibits specifically targeted at kids and the older kids would play with and create magical things using the latest tech. I got to wondering whether we could do such a thing Ruby-style at RubyConfX and perhaps inspire a new generation of hackers. Here’s an outline of the idea:

3 days of structured play with a few group projects or interactive presentations by Rubyists. Every kid brings a laptop. Kids 10 and up whose parents are comfortable with them being responsible for themselves can attend on their own. Younger kids must be accompanied by a grown-up who is welcome to learn to code or just hang out and have fun.

Ideas for projects / interactive presentations:

The big question is…. are there folks going to Ruby Conf X who have kids of an age to code who would be interested in bringing them along and participating?  I’ve got one interested and enough grown-ups willing to help.  If we have at least 3 or 4 kinds with some cross-over in age, then we’ll give it a go.  Send email to sarah _at_ ultrasaurus (dot) com or tweet @ultrasaurus with the age of your kid(s) and any relevant info, like what games or code-like stuff they are info.

7 thoughts on “kid track at rubyconf?

  1. I love the idea of a kid track! Unfortunately, my kids are too young to learn to code (5 and 3: they have to learn to read English, first), but I have a 10 year old niece, and my sister is really into the idea of her gaining some technical skills. She had me set up a Linux netbook for her last year. I can’t make it this year, but I’d love to keep an eye on developments in the conference kid-track realm.

  2. This would be awesome if rubyconf was during summer break, but I’d guess it will be hard for many so close to the winter holiday breaks.

  3. Hey Sarah! I know I said this to you a couple of weeks ago – before I returned to technology, in 2003, I gave secondary school teaching a whirl, and taught Biology for a bit in San Leandro (CA). Based on that experience, and some of the volunteering I did in the Berkeley Unified School District teaching digital video editing to young children, I would be happy to help you deliver and organize whatever class you end up teaching.

    Some opinions…

    Forty-five minutes to an hour and a half is about right for each lesson, and I would say two lessons a day max. The other time would be spent applying whatever they learned in building something meaningful.

    The Arduino idea sounds PERFECT, in that you could show something, at the beginning, which is a finished piece of work, that the kids could get excited about. They could also make it very personal, so each student could take some time to plan what it is that he or she would like to build, based on an interest, or something relevant to their lives (Dewey: “Text without Context is Pretext”).

    I also like that Arduino involves something more than computers. It shows that these skills can be applied to anything that has a chip.

    Awesome idea!

  4. My son Liam is 11 and might be able to attend. Thanks for creating what sounds like a wonderful opportunity!

  5. This is an awesome idea. My 3 older kids (11, 14, and 16) would enjoy learning Ruby in a kid friendly environment.

  6. Hello Sarah,

    Great idea and Ruby Nuby would like to partner with you to make this happen. Ruby Nuby teaches RoR, entrepreneurial skills and life skills to at-risk and disadvantaged youth who are sponsored by the professionals who take our courses. They learn alongside each other creating socio-economic bridges. After their 9th grade and completion of Ruby Nuby camp, we place the youths in paid internships/part-time jobs that they work throughout high school. By the time they graduate, they are hire-able as intermediate RoR developers with 4 years experience. Companies that hire our graduates have to pledge full scholarships so the youths can work for them during the day and go to college at night getting their degrees.

    Our website is being developed now http://www.rubynuby.net . We have been teaching classes at NYU since Aug 9th, 2010.

    Thank you so much for doing this,
    Malcolm Arnold

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