CodeDay Fall 2018 was a blast!
What went well
To start off, opening ceremonies went pretty well. The attendees seemed to be excited to get started working ("Why can't we just move on to coding already?"). I ran a quick "speed dating" activity where I divided the attendees into two lines, pairing each off with a person in the other line, and asked them some questions I found on a dating website. The cheesy nature of these questions got a lot of people to meet people they never had before, and form teams not just of the people they go to school with.
I'm really happy with the vibe we had at this season's CodeDay. I think it effectively portrayed an atmosphere of productivity and motivation. As with any tech event hosted in a venue with large TVs, there were lots of Nintendo Switch tournaments, but by the end everybody had finished a project they were proud of.
One thing that I've specifically tried to focus on in all of my coding activities is increasing diversity. I'm really happy with our turnout in terms of racial and gender representation; the trope of one girl on one team "for moral support" didn't hold true at all. A lot of the team leaders and our most knowledgable mentor were all girls, which was really helpful for changing the norms around gender at the event.
Speaking of mentors, the adults that helped this CodeDay were absolutely invaluable. Typically adult mentors only stay for a couple hours, but this event all of them stayed the whole 24 hours, guiding each of the attendees from start to finish in creating apps and games.
What could have gone better
Unfortunately, the venue space was pretty spread out. Since CodeDay was hosted in a company instead of the typical incubator space, teams were scatted throughout conference rooms and divided by offices. This meant that it was pretty easy as a beginner to lock themselves in a room with their friends that was totally cut off from the rest of the attendees.
I also think workshops could have been better for beginners. The curricula that I've worked on with a few other volunteers for CodeDay Chicago could definitely be designed in a way that's a lot easier to understand for people who don't have a background in programming. It'd like to in the future rehash some of these to be more open-ended and project-based so that the takeaways from these workshops can be used as a jumping off point for CodeDay projects.
Some fun moments captured by our resident photographer and amazing volunteer, Christian Sparks:
One of our mentors giving guidance to a team working on a game.
One of our teams whiteboarding out ideas.
Trying out the office N64 (I love trendy tech companies.)
Our intro to web development workshop, taught by Nik Ermolov.
Me furiously hacking the mainframe.
Getting some much needed rest.