Hacking Thought

Tomorrow is the final day of our hackathon and even as I sit here basking in the memories of seeing kids laugh through struggle while learning, I can’t help thinking how this entire event started from a single thought…

Why not our kids?

skype with the minecraft team

I feel like I’ve learned more in a few days than I have in my entire existence in education. Kids have a way of doing that to you.

Today, during interviews, I heard kids speak about who they wanted to be in the world and how they felt that technology could support that.  Story after story was filled with hope and dreams of being able to create experiences that mattered or minimally have access to people whose collaborative insight could produce the same.

One of our students spoke of learning about 9/11 and experiencing world problems as of late. He has dreams of building technology that could save lives during acts of terrorism. He was deeply emotional while explaining and anyone listening felt every word.

Another student spoke of his dreams to study aeronautical engineering but he was most animated when talking about how he builds rockets at home & launches them using everyday chemicals found at the hardware store. He learned to do this on YouTube by the way.

The best parts of what kids had to say dealt with problem solving as a team, failing & learning together and as I watched kids navigate through solutions, I couldn’t help but to wonder how their views would have been impacted if we provided more controls.

More controls like we give them daily…

We’ve got to stop trying to control learning so much and challenge kids to solve problems of their own choosing starting with their questions. Why is this shift taking so long again?

My connected life has given me the privilege to fully and unequivocally understand the importance of widening our views of learning and my hope is that more educators, school leaders and communities may see our story and be inspired to rethink learning too.

The fact is that as we grow & develop, what we plan to learn isn’t often what we actually learn. Those unintentional moments of “aha” usually become those where we see the value in running through the snow without shoes or jumping blindly into an idea for no other reason than because it’s interesting.

In that spirit, I hope that as our students continue to explore that they don’t forget to freeze the moments where they’ve connected and continue to turn those engineering dreams into experiences.

And above all else, stay unapologetically curious.


  • One of our students is working on a community service project in his free time where he is building a team to make learning accessible to single parent families by building them computers. I wish that everyone got to experience his face light up as one of our visitors from Microsoft promised to provide the software that he needed for all of his new builds directly from her pocket.
  • Not every kid in robotics codes. They all have different specialities but I must say that watching them all tackle skills outside of their comfort zones will make them even stronger as a unit.
  • You can never have enough snacks and we have been blessed by friends and community members who have contributed to breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks for four days.
  • When you buy bulk technology, there are going to be fails. That’s a given. Planning for that is pretty important.
  • Our kids selected their teams and I have to say that gender comfort in project creation and competition is a thing! 
  • Amazon overnight delivery is only awesome if it actually delivers overnight.
  • Thank you Raspberry Pi foundation for accepting this nerd into your program and planting seeds that you didn’t even know you did.
  • Speaking of Raspberry Pi, I said in January that I wanted to run a camp and give our kids their own device to keep. I still can’t believe that this happened.
  • Microsoft…Love you forever for making this happen!

One more thing, I’ve never felt more useful to our robotics kids because of my limited Python & raspberry Pi experience until today. I actually got to help them when they’ve been the ones unknowingly teaching me.


Elie and Marlina, Our Angel from Microsoft

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