Monday, 9 October 2017

2017OOW - Volunteering


Wow what an amazing day this was!

When I wrote my pre-open world blog I didn't have anything planned for Saturday but I knew that would change and then Michelle Kolbe tweeted me and suggested that I should volunteer for JavaOne for Kids,  so I did.

I'm certainly not technical so I really wasn't sure what I would be able to do but they said they needed room monitors, people who could just help the kids.

Basically the day was divided into three parts, there was a keynote where a well-known gamer Oliver Kelly and his daughter showed what they had built and Oracle had a 'Mom in IT' panel session and was really funny I knew one of the local ladies we had worked together 10 years ago when Fusion was just strategy. It was really great to see Shaloo Garg again.



Before the keynote started every child had the laptop open and was playing a game and when Stephen Chin from the Oracle Developer Community kicked off he said 'put the lids down, we are going to start now'. Every lid went down, and then every child took their phones from their bags and were under the table playing the games, a bit like my generation reading under the sheets with a torch when our parents told us to go to sleep. We are not really that much different are we?

Then the children had two sessions before and after lunch where they could learn what they had signed up for previously.  In the morning I was designated with the Python class and in the afternoon I was in the code.org class using AppsLab, but more about that later.

There were a few technical issues with virtual boxes needing to be restarted but actually I was maybe able to follow along and help the children when they got stuck. In most cases it was something tied incorrectly or more commonly it was syntax; it's amazing that the frustration syntax gives you is the same whatever code you use, takes me back to my Cobol days.

One interesting point was when the guy teaching spelt something wrong and about 10 hands went up and they all made exactly the same error. It was quite funny but at least I was able to help them. 

I normally volunteer with silver surfers, elderly people who you feel digitally excluded, they may be housebound and it makes them part of the bigger world. To them the technology is worrying as it is so foreign, whereas these children know nothing else, they simply soak it all up.



Lunch was also interesting for me, there was the wide range of children at my table. Some who obviously eat a good diet, including one even asked what the cookie covered in sugar was, and then there were others who complained that didn't like fruit, or anything 'healthy'.

What I loved most was a young girl who said my accent was 'dreamy'.

As I said earlier I was in a code.org class in the afternoon. The teacher was G Venkat who coincidentally had a daughter in the earlier python group. 

He talked through the different components of this more low code approach. Time had been compromised by a late start, but luckily he had a basic mobile app he could 'share' and then the students, got the chance to finish it off with what they had learnt and then share the app to their mobile phones (including me).

Since we were in October he had a halloween app for them to learn with, and I'm getting quite good at it.

I had such a blast, but more importantly the kids had a magical day and they learnt.

The organisation was amazing. Every child arrived with a parent or approved guardian and then both were given a matching wristband. The children were accompanied at all times, and then when the day finished, they were taken downstairs by security and police and matched. Only being let go when a wristband was matched.

However it was a bit odd we were simply able to sign up as volunteers, I think in the UK there would need to be a police check before volunteering with children. 

In both classes the split between girls and boys was pretty much equal, so that gives me hope that gender will not be an issue in this generation.

I'd defiantly do this again and encourage all my friends to do the same.

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