#nerdcamp principles and reflections

Arduino_LEDs_2I wanted to share out some thoughts here from a longer piece I posted on Digital Is regarding our first #nerdcamp experience. I hope they help you plan your own DIY, do-what-you-can-where-you-are, #popupPD fun!

Here are a few of my nerd camp planning principles:

  • Based on experience, intuition, and what you want to learn, bring together all the materials you have that you think will spark participants’ imaginations, but don’t buy materials special for the day.
  • Invite participants to be mentors to you and one another, as well as learners, and to bring their own new learning materials; allow yourself to be mentored and to listen keenly for new ideas for yourself and your kids.
  • Join participants’ conversations about their learning and answer all the questions you can about how you and your students use the materials, but don’t set an agenda or try to “facilitate” the “event;” be a co-learner and hold on to that role.
  • Invite everyone who wants to unpack play, inquiry, and making for themselves.
  • Apologize every time you ask to drive or troubleshoot someone else’s computer.

And, with thanks to Melissa Techman, here are a few take-aways from our debrief:

  • Camp largely worked; maintain its emergent focus on maker-heavy coding and creating connections and metaphors between the material and digital through physical computing.
  • Invite students to be mentors to the adults
  • Iterate again quickly at a different time to experiment with ways to increase attendance and participation; keep going and improving.
  • Keep in mind useful progressions (Scratch to MaKey MaKey to Arduino), but help folks begin where they want to begin; let participants, including yourself, choose their own difficulty levels.
  • Adults like learning like this because they feel like they can play like kids; kids like learning like this because they feel like we treat them like adults when given the freedom to learn; we all enjoy personally meaningful learning in a community that supports it.

Happy camping!

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