Why we do what we do

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This blog was written by Vivian Chandra. She has been a volunteer with OMGTech! and recently joined our staff as an all-round helper.

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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 - By Jessie

(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?