Calling all young scientists and geeks for a free Summer hack in August #H2Hack

You may have heard of the first ever Hydrogen hack happening in the UK this summer, run by the uber cool Arcola Energy team, ahead of the launch of their education programme. The latest news is that we are ready to start filling up the centres. If you want to read all about the hack and apply, go here – but the basic idea is that 100 scientists and geeks aged 18 and under will come together in ten centres and use hydrogen fuel cells to make animate objects move faster and inanimate objects become mobile. Using a variety of fun technology, toys and fuel cells, this week promises to be challenging and completely new.

At the end of the week there will be a large competition between the projects at Ravensbourne College near the O2 in London, in front of a panel of distinguished judges.

If you look at the map on the website you will see where all the centres are, but we are just looking now at getting the right balance of young talent in each centre. By ‘scientist’ we mean that you have an interest in science and engineering, or of course are a flat out genius at science; by ‘geek’ we mean that you have coding/hacking skills; by ‘young’ we mean that you have to be aged 18 or under. Here is the list as of this week:

Nottingham University: we are looking for 8 young scientists, we have enough geeks but if you are amazing, do apply!

Techniquest, Glyndwr University, Wrexham: we are looking for 7 young scientists, we have enough geeks but if you are amazing, do apply!

Centre for Life, Newcastle: we are looking for 9 young scientists, we have enough geeks but if you are amazing, do apply!

BOC, Guildford: we are looking for 7 young scientists, and 2 young geeks

Tettenhall College, Wolverhampton: we are looking for 6 young scientists, and 2 young geeks

Monmouth school, South Wales: we are looking for 4 young scientists, we have enough geeks but if you are amazing, do apply!

University Technical College, Bolton: we are looking for 8 young scientists and 1 young geek

University of Sheffield: we are looking for 7 young scientists, we have enough geeks but if you are amazing, do apply!

In London we have a wealth of young scientists and very few geeks so far! Which is very odd, so please do apply if you love hacking and are happy getting to a centre in London. We are in the process of signing up more London centres as we have so many young science applicants – so there will be a number of centres to choose from.

You can all apply on site here

Right! That is it. It will be a GREAT week, and free – what more could you ask for.

{Mentors: we need you, so if you are too old for this hack but love the idea – register as a mentor, it will be as much fun – but we can’t pay you}



Summer hacking in the UK

As we are currently in the middle stages of scale and expansion for Young Rewired State, looking at sustainability and providing a bridge to more than just one off community events such as the much adored and missed Festival of Code.

In the mean time there are still some exciting opportunities for the young programming community, including the Hydrogen Hack I have been helping Arcola energy put together as they launch the expansion of their education programme.

The challenge is to take hydrogen fuel cells, code and hardware and make something newer, faster or inanimate objects animate.

Run the same way we run the Festival, with centres around the UK, mentors and then a finale in London, those of you in the Young Rewired State community will be familiar with it. This time we want to add those young people who are also crazy about engineering.

There is only space for 100 people in ten centres across the country so I would advise registering early.

Here is the link

We also need mentors and centres of course, so feel free to share and invite your friends

How to put girls off programming and tech — the easy way

Back in 2012, I wrote a post that is a much longer version of this, it is still true and people are still doing this. Well done!

Every year we have one major focus for the Festival of Code in addition to the overall plan: introducing young programmers to open data and each other. In 2012 I decided I would try to really focus on the issue of the pitifully small number of girls in tech and specifically girls applying to join in the Festival.

In previous years we have struggled enough trying to find any child under the age of 18 who could programme, let alone deal with the girl thing. Yet every year I come under heavy criticism for not having enough girls there and no matter how many times you say: ‘it is not for want of trying‘, there is only so much defending you can do before really trying to *do* something.

Cue me in 2012.

Every media event, every radio broadcast, every TV split-second and every speaking opportunity, blog post or “fireside chat” that year I bemoaned the fact that so few girls sign up for the Festival of Code, and indeed how many of those who do sign up, tend to pull out at the last minute. I called for more girls: Welcome the girls, I cried — loudly! With a view to increasing our number from 5% to 30%. I wanted to draw the girls out, let them know about this, let their parents know — showcase and applaud them on the Young Rewired State platform — that year bigger and shinier than ever before…

I hope you can tell by now where I am going, but I am going to drag you through every painful penny-dropping moment so that you never make this mistake yourself, dear reader.

During an hour-long telephone conference call with some well-meaning people helping me ‘get more girls’, I found myself nodding along as ideas were discussed such as: you need to find some more “girly data”… like nursing, is there anything like that in I *actually* found myself questioning my data for pink subjects, oh my god, even I knew this was a spectacular low for me. At that point I began to question my focus and modus operandi for getting more girls. The MO being: shout more loudly in forums where girls and their parents might hear — that’ll work, that and pink data.

At this point I allowed myself the special treat of discovering how many girls we had that year. I had put off looking, focusing instead on the drive to get more girls, trying to build and extend the amount of time I took to do the percentages, so that I could give myself a little pat on the back when I saw the fruits of my work.

Guess what? The number of girls applying to the Festival that year … dropped. Girls were PULLING OUT!

Completely bamboozled as to why my monstrously massive effort to encourage girls into programming was failing, I began wringing my hands at public events. Not only were my efforts failing to increase the numbers, it was actively reducing the numbers who signed up — please help me, someone. Audiences chuckled and looked awkward, and I grew ever more concerned about this — what on earth was I doing wrong? Maybe I should wangle a slot on Woman’s Hour.

Through this trojan effort to get more girls I had the benefit of meeting lots of amazing people trying to redress the male/female balance in all sorts of walks of life — it had not ever been a raison d’être of mine.

Yet I do not mean to detract from the people who do so, it is an issue, yes, a worldwide issue and especially in programming/tech.

Through a charity we had worked with: Refugees United, I was introduced to the wonderful Kristen Titus, based in New York and running Girls who code. An ambitious programme and something I support hugely and wish we had here, big time. Kristen and I arranged a skype chat and riffed for an hour about how the UK and US were dealing with the broader issue of programming skills in a digital world with analogue schools and inevitably came back to my baffled moaning about how the number of girls had dropped this year — could I blame the Economic Crisis? Could Kristen find some anthropological reason why no girls were signing up? I mean… I made such an effort *sigh*

Kristen said this (ish, I cannot remember verbatim)

So you identified that the girls were not signing up in their teenage years as they have a greater need to fit in. You identified that the girls dropped out the closer the event got as they were concerned about being showcased and ‘outed’. You know, as a mother of two girls, that identity trumps everything… yet you chose to publicly out this problem, to use your public platform to draw a big red ring around the issue and then essentially dared girls to sign up — after you took your sweet time to turn that massive spotlight directly on them and them alone — in advance of the week? Hmm… I can’t think why… maybe you need more pink data…

I have to say that I lie quite appallingly here, Kristen was very kind in her gentle admonishment and practical advice, but this is what my brain finally said to me as she spoke. So thank you, Kristen, and sorry for completely bastardizing your observations!

Want to know what works? Next post 🙂