Yesterday my son and I attended an event organised by Doug Belshaw at the Centre for Life in Newcastle. The title of the event was a #mozparty and there are a number of these been organised across the country and beyond. I must admit as well as wanting to take @minifernal along to let him experience something “different” that he doesn’t experience in school, I was also curious about the whole concept of a hack day and what would be involved. In planning the #digitalstudies curriculum both Brian Sharland and Nic Patterson have talked about having hack days as way of assessing pupils at the end of a project so I went along very open minded.
I have to say from the outset, a big thank you to Doug and all his “awesome” (their real title!) gang not just for organising a great event but also making James very welcome and encouraging his work along the way.
The event itself was very informal with groups of tables set up and a wide range of ages and backgroundse encouraged to plug in and “hack” over a 3 hour period. Doug introduced the event as a hacking day but pointed out that this was a “legal” hack event which allayed the little fellas worries that he may get in trouble with the police
During the course of 3 hours we all used a few Mozilla tools created to encourage coding and digital creation. I have used all the tools before with my students so had a bit of an advantage in terms of using the tools but @minifernal took to them all like a duck to water and loved the idea of creating his own web page from scratch using Thimble, hacking a web page using Hackasaurus / X-ray goggles and also creating his own video using Popcorn.
The fruits of his labour and creative ideas can be seen below:
Thimble – Prawns for Mr Bunce
The look on his face when Doug showcased his work was priceless and we are both very proud of his work. It’s not very often an 8 year old can tell his pals he hacked the Buckingham Palace website and replaced the Royals with characters from Ice Age
One of the many great tools within Timble and also Popcorn are some of the pre created projects which can be edited.
Whilst all the other excellent projects can be viewed on the following ether pad
The idea of a hack day is a lot clearer now in my mind and it is definitely something I want to explore next year in my school. Whether that is at the end of a project or even prior to starting a unit it has great potential to introduce, encourage and foster students knowledge and application of coding in a number of different areas. I have used Thimble to introduce HTML to students and also X-Ray google for the same idea with some great results in the past. Popcorn is relatively new but a groups of Year 9s loved the idea of creating video online and the interface is very straightforward to use. Mozilla have created some great tools which are well worth looking at.
So after an afternoon of hacking we didn’t get arrested much to @minifernal ‘s relief. But he couldn’t wait to show his mum his creations and can’t wait to do some more hacking !
Doug posted a set of photos from the event which you can take a look at here. If there is a #mozparty taking place near you over the holidays I would encourage anyone to go along from the beginner to the accomplished.