Future Stars of Digital Culture
17 August 2012
Young, self-taught coders and web-designers created digital products with the aim to change the country for the better in a weeklong hackathon by Grace Baird
Last week Lighthouse hosted the future stars of digital culture, from coders and programmers, to animators and designers for a coding summer camp. The Young Rewired State participants, aged 11-18, spent four days devising and developing their projects fuelled on pizza and Pepsi. They then journeyed up to Birmingham’s Custard Factory where they presented their creations along with their peers to a panel of judges at the Festival of Code.
The endlessly patient Emma O’Sullivan from sponsor Cogapp and Edd Parris from co-sponsor NixonMcInnes, who volunteered their time to organise and support the enthusiastic participants, led the group. Throughout the week the group were visited by a number of mentors who coached the young people on all manner of useful skills, from presenting to programming, prioritising to team-working. The mentors included a number of Lighthouse friends, including Seb Lee-Delisle, (who is kicking off the 2012 Brighton Digital Festival with his PixelPyros digital firework display) and Tobias Quinn, one of the Good For Nothing alumni.
At the end of day four I was invited downstairs to find out what they had been up to all week and to watch the youngsters introduce their final projects, which they would be presenting to the judges at the weekend. As I joined them they were frantically trying to finish their work, each selectively not hearing the calls to stop and begging for just a little more time.
When they finally settled down to share their work with the rest of the group and mentors, I can honestly say they left me slack-jawed and speechless! I knew these guys and girls had some special skills with computers but I was amazed at their level of social consciousness (much higher than many adults), their ability to create, translate their ideas and then present them so coherently. They built their own websites, games and one group even built their own programming language.
At the Festival of Code presentation weekend two of the Brighton teams were prize category finalists and one team impressed the judges so much they invented a new prize category; “Should Exist” for the group who created user-generated app called Way to Go, for people who have walking disabilities, which allows them to find and rate the accessibility of public places.
The Young Rewired State was so inspiring; it demonstrated that hacking was possible, no matter how old (or young) you are, no matter what your background or level of education. It made me want to learn to code! Let’s hope they come back next year.
View pictures of the event on Flickr
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