Mozilla Popcorn Hackjam (#mozparty in review and looking ahead)

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A room full of smart, cool kids paired with brilliant volunteers and web-changing technology = Victoria’s Popcorn Hackjam 

(Make sure you checkout the link above to see the cool Popcorn projects our kids created)

There are a few things I wish could have gone better…(paper popcorn/storyboarding – didn’t really translate with our event video / group strength ).  Wishing… I was a more competant (confident ?) teacher/presenter, although I’ll eventually I’ll get there ,  these are evolving skills for me.  Fortunately it’s not about me.

There were a few moments of panic: no computer passwords!, Popcorn-save bug…  all fine in the end.

Mostly, WOW – I would PAY to spend an afternoon absorbing the knowledge of any ONE of our volunteers/mentors (Web Developers, Filmmakers, Education Techs, Teachers among others) .  And a  highlight of course,  was the good fortune of having Brett Gaylor’s particpation:  “The Popcorn Maker – Maker “.  Brett brought so much energy, excitement and fun to the room.  What I lacked in communication abilities, and knowledge he picked up and made shine. 

The new Popcorn:  A huge leap in awesomeness. Our small part in sharing it with the world was an honour. 

An amazing group of kids. Kids who discovered functionality in Popcorn that I hadn’t considered  possible.  That Popcorn responded so well what kids wanted to do with video, to me, seems an obvious reflection of it’s genious and potential.  And yes, I think Brett ended up with a few feature-requests as well :)

Aside from all that was delicious about Popcorn Maker, the single biggest success to me was the palpable enthuasism among the entire group(including parents) to continue what the Mozilla Summer of Code started.  Parents and kids wanted more, lots more – not just more hackjams  but more OPPORTUNITY for kids period. 

Parents of one eagar hacker communicated frustration at the complete lack of instruction in their son’s school for the skills he was developing in programming.  These parents are out in their communities,  using the right language  for example ‘my son wants to learn JavaScript’, but still they cannot locate the resources they need.  Where does that leave kids and parents who still haven’t found the language to ask?

Schools are NOT teaching this, why is that?    On an up-side, we were honoured to have an observer from the Ministry of Education in attendance and his exiting words were of intentions to spend all of  Sunday playing with Popcorn – he was as excited as the rest of us.  I hope with partipation like his, and the revamp of cirriculum ahead we can slowly edge forward.

The realization that right here in sleepy Victoria, we are growing a revolution of change  – perhaps leading the country was an exciting one.

Parents expressed interest in organizing Webmaker clubs (both in schools, and beyond) , they want more events like ours, they want more information on resources (like Code Acadamy). Mentors are keen to DO more, invent more, advocate more , and we’ve agreed that occasional meetups would help.

And so… next steps: I’ll be setting up a regional Webmaker dist list so all of us can stay connected: empower, share, teach, meet, grow. Lots of magic ahead.  (NOTE: we also have a new BC Mozilla as well)

Cool highlight of the entire process was this little event video Brett made with my daughter Molly.  I’m still trying to bring her back from her moment of stardom.