What a difference we all make together.

We founded OMGTech! 3 years ago to make a difference. To reach as many kids we can in New Zealand to get them inspired and on a pathway to innovating with technology. It’s certain our future will be technology driven, we have cross the threshold into the tech driven world and the scary reality is that if we don’t know how to use technology, or at best just be consumers of it then we are going to be left behind, individually and as a nation.

We started off with a simple hypothesis that if we just gave kids access to technology, showed them how it worked, then they would just run with it. We also knew that the 10 year olds today would be using very different technology in another 10 years when they are “grown up” so just teaching them coding was a good start but it wouldn’t be enough. So we picked the most accessible (and some inaccessible) future technologies like robotics, 3D printing, drones, VR & AR and created fun workshops that use these technologies.

We treated OMGTech! as a startup, with no money, moving fast and testing everything as we go to find what works. So we had to find a way to test that this worked or we would have a bunch of expensive tech sitting around with no kids. You first test product market fit, and to our relief, we validated that almost instantly. 8-12 year olds gravitated to technology and want to know how it all works. We had thousands, of kids lining up to come to our events. But we quickly realised that just a show, a single event to wow them was not enough. The wow was almost too easy. The demand was clearly there with thousands of kids all across New Zealand. However, the hard bit was creating the pathways for these kids post-wow so they could go home and keep going with robotics, or 3D design or game programming. Otherwise, you are doing nothing more than just entertaining them with a show.

These post-wow pathways are critical. Every kid has a different journey to be able to participate in our digital future, it’s like crossing a river. I love analogies, so consider this your terrible analogy warning. For the kids all the way upstream where the river is narrow, they can just jump across it. For kids a bit further downstream, they need a plank to get over. Further down, however, a lot of our kids need many more planks to cross the river. If you are a kid from a low-income home following a passion for technology was near impossible. There are a few planks you need to lay. If that kid was a girl, another plank. If home was outside of Auckland or Wellington, another. And if she was maori or pasifika, more planks. So we have been busy identifying all the planks we can help lay to get every kid across the river to our digital future. I think that analogy works?

Recently we were asked to be part of Techweek - the one week showcase of what’s going on in NZ tech. It was a crazy busy week all across New Zealand and we were busy “laying planks”.

One of our big planks is to work with our hard-working educators, to demystify technology and enable them to teach it in the classroom themselves.  We have been working with many schools around New Zealand on ways to teach technology to make it fun and engaging in the classroom. Partnering with Manaiakalani and Core Education we ran digital technologies training sessions for teachers representing different schools in Auckland and Dunedin.

A lot of technology isn’t rocket science, not even the rocket science so we covered that off too. We partnered with Rocket Lab and the New Zealand Space Agency to run an in classroom education live-stream where we streamed interviews with kiwi space pioneers working in the industry to more than 4,000 kids live in their classrooms and then teaching them how to make and launch their own bottle rockets. Some rockets exploded, there was much baking soda everywhere, and many rockets landing on school roofs up and down the nation. It was awesome. 

Next plank is outside of the classroom. It’s important to work with our community groups who are on the ground working with our youth too so we did a few things here, there and well, everywhere. We ran a technology workshop for intermediate and teenage pasifika youth in Porirua partnering with the Ministry of Pacific People and NZQA with the awesome help of volunteers from Spark, Xero, Revera and Plaint software testing. We ran a session with the a group of rangatahi who have become disengaged with mainstream education at Porirua Alternative School. We ran hands on activations at the Digital Moana Forums with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and at the southtechweek18-XLR8 event in Auckland. We showcased our Maori community engagement programme, e-Pou, at the Maori technology showcase in the waikato with Te Puni Korkiri and we launched a year long Maori Game design course in Ngaruawahia High school & Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga.

Our leaders in community and industry are another important plank, and so with the help of WeCreate we spoke at and facilitated 2 sessions at the Createch conference in both Auckland and Wellington to support education technology and creativity. We partnered with Microsoft and ran a robotics workshops for digigirlz, an event focused on getting more high school girls into tech. And to wrap up a frantic week we ran a 2 day event teaching coding and robotics at Motat with half the attendees being supported for free to attend from low decile schools.

It was a crazy busy but also crazy awesome week laying planks.

But I hope you will notice something, a few words that stand out about everything that went on during Techweek. Phrases like “We partnered” or “With the help of”. We didn’t do it. You all did, every partner, volunteer, teacher, parent and leader out there who wants to make a difference and can see the opportunity ahead for our kids. We just come up with the crazy ideas and bring you all together to supply the inspiration, the role models and the elbow grease to carefully place the planks for the kids to run across. In one week those planks helped more than 5,000 kids and hundreds of educators all over Aotearoa NZ. So to you all, we thank you.

What a difference we all make together.

Manu Tukutuku Coding Day

My name is Sina Lologa.  I live on Shifnal Drive, Randwick Park.  I saw this programme advertised on Manu Tukutuku's facebook page and I was really excited to see OMGtech!'s holiday program based on coding, robotics etc... being held in our local hood!  I had always wanted my children to attend one of these holiday programmes but could never really afford the cost of the programmes.... so I decided to come down and learn alongside my daughter so I could also help her out at home if needed.  

I really enjoyed the game "Compute it" as it gave me the opportunity of learning how to read each line of a code... it was fun - asking us those questions of ... if, and, else.... !  I also had to look at the brackets to ensure that I was following each line of instructions correctly.  I enjoyed the help from the awesome tutors who were so friendly and very patient!  It was also very cool talking with other children who were digital natives and just loved coding!  Plus it was a real positive seeing some of our Randwick Park children rubbing shoulders with other like minded students.

Thank you to everyone who were able to make this opportunity available for our Randwick Park community.  

Holiday Cheer!

makey makey

The holiday season is fast approaching, so here at OMGTech! HQ we thought we'd help out the parents with some AWESOME gift ideas. If you have any other amazing #steam ideas please comment below!

Do you have any awesome links to share with us? Comment below.

If you don't have a kid to shop for, but you want to give the gift of #steam to kid in Aotearoa, please consider supporting us with a small gift. The team at OMGTech! HQ are super excited about #STEAM all the time, and your donation will enable us to share it with all the kids!

Why we do what we do

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I have been involved with OMGTech! since day one. I first heard of it through twitter and offered to help out at the launch event, and was hooked from the very first moment. 

OMGTech! started as an equaliser. We wanted to make sure that every kiwi kid has access to future technology. This is the fastest growing industry in the history of our planet, and in today's society, there is a large chunk of people who will just miss it completely. 

This isn't just a case of missing out on new toys.

We are already seeing a shift in the way we do things. I have to swipe in at the gym, I self-service at the supermarket, and perhaps, one day soon, I'm going to vote by logging in instead of using an orange marker. Even more important, maybe my doctor will be a robot, and my car will drive itself. All of these things are happening, whether we want it or not. We can debate the ethics all we want, but there is no stopping this train. The only question is, who was allowed on at the station. 

This year, the NZ Government announced additional funding and a new compulsory digital technologies curriculum. While it is an amazing start, we feel that the work that we do is more vitally important than ever before. At every single event, we see how much quicker kids that have pick up the new ideas vs the kids that have not. 

Please, help us provide these resources to more kids. Let us work together to make Aotearoa a country where there are no kids that have not and only a bunch of future tech giants that will take this country to greater heights than have ever been known before. 

Please donate today, a lot of our funding is tied up in specific projects, and often run short of what we need. We have some amazing partners, but we also need YOU. If you set up a regular gift to us, we will be able to plan our activities and programmes with much more certainty. It means we can sponsor more kids to come on our programmes, or pay for more resources and materials. 

 

While one-time gifts go a long way, supporting us with a regular gift is the best way you can help us keep going

UNMAKING AN ALARM CLOCK

(My first OMG blog entry!)

Hi, I’m Jessie, and I am an OMG Tech Kid ambassador and today I will be taking you through how I took an alarm clock apart.

Why? You may ask. Because it’s fun and we can learn about how things work. 

I searched for something simple and safe (no major chemicals) to unmake and found this alarm clock in a second hand shop. 

I put a battery in and checked that it worked, so that if I did somehow manage to get it back together all in one, I’d see if I could get it to work again.

Now let’s get started!!! 

What the back looked like before I started.

First, I took out the three tiny screws on the back of the alarm clock.

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Now we’re down to the real stuff!  I wonder what will be in here?        

So the back cover then came off.

The clock hands

And the front.

 The cover

 

The front of the clock without the hands.

 The back of the mechanism casement.         

 WOW!!!  It’s amazing!!!

There’s so many parts.   

Zoomed in on the on/off lever

Even more things!

Why is there so much wire?

Other gears

Almost everything out!

Now I’ve gotta put it all back together again. 

It’s nearly all back together again!!!

I got the cover back on again!!!

It’s a real shame the circuit wire broke; otherwise the clock would have actually worked!

 I did it!!!  ☺️

YAHOO!

Volunteer story - Ruth James: Why do I do this?

I became a OMG Tech Ranger after my friend Matt, (who runs the coding workshop at OMG Tech) recommended I ‘give it a go’! The first event I help out with was in South Auckland, at ParkJam; there were 4 Tech Rangers (including me!), 6 robots and a endless supply of eager participants! Ever since then – I’ve been part of the Robots team!

At this point – I’d like to point out I DON’T come from a robotics or electronic background, I’m not an engineer and I don’t know any programming languages! BUT, I have worked in the NZ tech industry for the last 9 years and for the last 2 years I’ve been involved with a number of initiatives encourage kids to get into STEM (especially software engineering and computer science!)

There’s a global shortage of skilled IT people in the industry, and as tech becomes bigger (which it inevitable will!) – this will only perpetuate unless we make some radical efforts to improve the situation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just doing this so we can fill all the vacancies in the tech industry! As Steve Jobs put it ‘Everyone should know how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think!’

For me, tech isn’t about being a lone code monkey drinking energy drinks and eating pizza (which the common social stereotype seems to portray!)! It’s about problem solving, working together collaborative, following your passion, doing something that will create benefit to the end user and solving real life problems! Through all the OMG Tech workshops we run, we encourage all our students to see tech in the same way!

Not only do we encourage our students to think differently we encourage them to learn differently. The robotics workshop we run is based on tactile and collaborative learning. Most students work in pairs when programming their robot, they learn by trail and error and build up a resilient and agile mindset while doing so. As someone who’s dyslexic, and remembers that feeling of anxiety and frustration when learning classic classroom methodologies such as ‘chalk and talk’ or text book learning. I understand the importance of allowing students to experience their own personal ‘eureka’ moment! I think this is the BEST way to learn anything!

Testing the happy path – Coding Tips

Imagine you are coding a game where the player needs to pick up the red key, so they can open the red door.

When the code is ready, you’ll want to test it. You might try picking up the red key, then go to the red door and see if it opens. It does! Yay, it’s working – or is it?

When you test everything going right, this is called testing the happy path. But it’s also important to test the other paths. For example:

  • What if you try to open the door, but without the key? The door should stay closed.
  • What if you try to walk through the door when it is closed? You should not get past.
  • What if you pick up the blue key, and try to open the red door? It should not open.

Those are ideas for a game. On a website, there are also different paths to test:

  • What if someone tries to log in, but their password is wrong?
  • What if someone bids on TradeMe, but someone else already made a higher bid?
  • What if someone clicks ‘Send’ on an email, but they forgot to say who the email was to?

It’s really important that the program knows what to do when unexpected things happen. To be a great software tester, you need to think about all the possibilities – not just the happy path!

Remixing in Scratch

There are 11 million projects on the Scratch website! Some of them are really good. If you ever find a project you like, you can look inside to see how the author made it.

Once you’re inside, you can also change around the project and save it as a remix – adding your own ideas to the project.

One of my favourite Scratch games is Level 1 by Maki-Tak ( https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/1241509/ ). This is a platform game with one level. When you get to the end, a message comes up inviting you to create a remix where you add your own Level 2.

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Lots of people have remixed the game. In fact, there are 86 different versions. Scratch can show you a remix tree of all the different versions.

The base of the tree is the original game. Each branch leads to a remix. For this game, you can see that some of the remixes have their own remixes, and there are chains so long they go off the screen!

It’s fun to create your own projects, but it can also be great to start with someone else’s project so you have to make everything yourself. Are there any Scratch projects you would like to remix?