ChickTech High School Workshop
All developers know the feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing a tricky section of code. To me that feeling is a distant second to the accomplishment felt when teaching someone else the joys of this hobby/career that I hold so dear. This past weekend (Jan. 26th & 27th, 2013) Portland State University graciously hosted the Chicktech High School Workshop where I had the privilege of being on a team that introduced an entire lab full of high school age young women to Drupal.
The ChickTech non-profit organization's primary mission is to build the confidence of women & girls; empowering them to head into several traditionally gender-biased tech-based industries. This particular event had the goal of sparking an interest in today's youth before they start making decisions on their college and career paths. With this event they set out to let these students know a bit about the tech industry, that it's a great thing to be a part of, and that they can carve out their own place in it.
The event had an almost overwhelming positive response. The workshop sessions were not only fully booked, but overbooked! This event required teenagers to sacrifice the entire weekend preceding finals, and the flood gates still had to be raised.
Early on Saturday I had a chance to speak with one of the high school teachers that came along with her students. I was honored as she excitedly spoke about what a great opportunity the event was for her students. She went on to explain that her students came from a school that does not even have a computer lab let alone any type of formal introductions to tech-related fields. We had a few technical difficulties on day one, but even as we shuffled to rearrange the workshop in response, that same teacher nudged me and said: "it doesn't even matter, this is still so great for them!"
"Ten years ago I did an events calendar on a site and it took me weeks; you just did one in a couple minutes."
By mid-day on Sunday, some of the Drupal sites began to not only take shape, but also take on a personality of their own. Suddenly we had students beginning to explore various themes and modules. After one student successfully installed the calendar module I couldn't help but tell her: "Ten years ago I did an events calendar on a site and it took me weeks; you just did one in a couple minutes." Then, I overheard another student say: "You know… this is actually starting to look like a pretty cool site." From there the overall excitement level in the class began growing at a rapid rate.
By the end of day two, we had a lab full of Drupal sites setup on Pantheon and a whole lot of satisfied grins. The end of the event was marked with a tech show that was open to the parents and general public. As I watched the students escort their parents over and proudly demonstrate the fully functional websites they created over the past two days, I couldn't help but think that we just might have passed on a little inspiration.
For more information on ChickTech please visit www.chicktech.org.