Once upon a time students went to school to memorize facts and then regurgitate them on multiple-choice tests. Every day, adults promised kids that working hard to be proficient on these tests would secure their place in college. But despite schools' best efforts, there still weren’t enough engineers prepared for careers. One day, the Disruption Department opened it's doors for a cohort of students to immerse themselves in creating, inventing, and tinkering. Eventually, they were able to find high-paying local jobs that could utilize their tier 1 leadership, talent, and enthusiasm to build new things. Until finally, St. Louis became the most innovative region in the country, where ALL children had a chance to make things that mattered.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
Starting in August 2013, The Disruption Department, an educational technology nonprofit in St. Louis that is preparing the next generation of engineers for high-tech jobs, will recruit students to participate in a talent development program. Ultimately, 20 students between the ages of 14 and 16 will be selected as Young Makers. Each Young Maker will be placed on a team comprised of 3 others which will be led by a group of employees at a startup in St. Louis (between 3 and 5 adults). Leaders will be either technology coaches, those that can help with the skills and knowledge necessary to build products intended to be used for others, or mentors, those that can provide the “soft skill” support necessary for our young men and women to become leaders in the entrepreneurial, corporate, or university communities in St. Louis.
While there are many components of the Young Makers program, Hackdays are vital to establishing the type of team culture necessary for dynamic and high-quality work.
WHAT ARE HACKDAYS?
Hackdays are monthly gatherings of Disruption Department Young Makers. The objectives of these gatherings are as follows:
1. To introduce Young Makers to a new skill related to a high-tech or creative field. This is a way to “layer” new skills in a low-risk way. As the program develops, we will introduce new product verticals (additive manufacturing, interactive design and biotech), but for the first “class” of Young Makers we will focus on computer engineering, a high-demand skill for local employment. Each Hackday will thus contribute to the “toolkit” of each Maker, allowing them to try out new approaches to product development.
2. To show Young Makers a workplace in St. Louis where entrepreneurs use technology to build interesting things. Few of our Young Makers have experienced a workplace where people build things using new creative skills. Most of their experience with employment has been based on people going to work in exchange for a wage. This exposure will show our Young Makers that creative workplaces exist in St. Louis, and that if they work hard enough, they can work at one.
3. To build a sense of community amongst Young Maker teams. Creative workplaces are collaborative and interdisciplinary. Engineers must play and work with others effectively in order to create products that other people use.
4. To update on the products Young Makers are building. Each month, teams will share the development of their product and provide constructive feedback to the other teams.
5. To learn sage advice from professionals in the field. At each Hackday, an industry professional will give a presentation about their development from young engineer to full-time professional.
6. To hang out! We know sometimes the most valuable interactions are the unstructured ones. We want our Young Makers to socialize with intelligent and talented people in high-tech and creative fields.Between September and May, we will host Hackdays on one Sunday per month. Transportation will be provided to each of the Young Makers. The location will depend on the focus of that event.
WHAT DOES YOUR DONATION PAY FOR?
1. Transportation for each event
2. T-Shirts and stickers for each of the teams
3. Consumable budget for each of the Hackday skill introductions4. Food and refreshments for each of the Young Makers
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