I’ve been to a lot of unconferences in my time, but none with any level of excitement to match Hack To The Future!
The event, created by Alan “@teknoteacher” O’Donohoe, was a massive opening salvo to highlight the recent UK Government announcement that the ICT curriculum is changing from September 2012. Alan successfully brought together children, businesses and enthusiasts to produce 40+ talks and workshops on the day.
Some stand out sessions include
Freakclown’s – Ethical hacking.
Andy Piper – Nanode workshop (Many thanks to Ken Boak for providing 10 free Nanodes!)
Dr Tom Crick – The future of ICT Education.
I loved the mix of workshops and sessions, children loved the hands on experience of using electronics in the lab, I saw many children sitting down and learning to solder with the Fignition team, Julian and Helen did a fantastic job of engaging with the children (and the adults who were fighting to get their hands on the tiny 8-bit computer) and illustrating that electronics can be fun.
Children also enjoyed creating their own hama bead creations, a session lead by a 12 yr old girl. Adults sat side by side with children and learnt how to make various badges and figures (There were quite a few 8-bit and 16-bit game character creations coming out of that workshop.)
The children were given free reign to choose what talks they wanted to see, and used handy mini maps and mini grids to record when and where a talk took place.
On the day, the BBC unveiled a very early pre alpha build of their new coding platform, dubbed the BBC Micro II. This platform allows beginners to learn how to code, and then their source code can be compiled for many different platforms. It’s still early days, but it is a fantastic premise, and one which I will follow with great interest.
Blackpool Linux User Group were there, and interest in Linux was very high, children asked about the different distributions, and tried out the latest on a bank of laptops that they had ready for them to use. One child asked if they could make a CD for them to take away, and the team were more than happy to do that for them, until the asked for a 50 Cent CD. (Surely they meant 50CentOS?)
Microsoft showed off their Gadgeteer platform, it’s very similar to the Arduino platform. The Gadgeteer workshop ran all day, and it was packed! Children had the chance to build and program a digital camera using the platform. I really liked the idea of the Gadgeteer, it was easy to use and develop for. (But don’t worry Arduino is still my first choice for developing hardware.)
At the end of the day, Dr Tom Crick presented the closing keynote, that the purpose of the day was to excite and inspire children and adults to make a difference in the ICT curriculum, highlighting that the event is the start of many similar events around the UK, and indeed the world.
Alan is keen to point out that the event was completely open source, and that other schools around the world are encouraged to use the framework at wiki.hackademy.org.uk and improve upon it. Take the framework into your school or college and shape it into something that delivers the maximum benefit for your children.
This event was fantastic, and I recommend it to children and adults, you can learn so much, just by having fun.
Take a look at Hack to the Future’s lanyrd page