Mozillian FuzzyFox attended the Kent International Jamboree Maker Party earlier this month and filed this report from the field:
The Kent Scouts International Jamboree Maker Party was worth the sweltering heat that we had to endure in our hanger-sized tent.
Spearheaded by Dorine Flies and EPIK, Scouts, Girl Guides and webmakers converged at the East Kent Showground during the Kent International Jamboree to learn by making, and, despite an “overheated wifi dying and regenerating more times than Dr Who” (love that description Steve,) some awesome Popcorn Makes were created. Before I jump straight to what was made, though, let me give you a little background into the event, as well as what happened on the day.
The Kent International Jamboree
The Kent Scouts International Jamboree, held every 4 years, draws thousands (over 6000 this year) Scouts and Girl Guides from around the world to celebrate friendship and adventure. This year marks its 5th installment, with more fun, more friends and more adventure than ever before.
Held in the Kent County Showground, it had more than 100 activities, including abseiling, crate stacking, and webmaking. Alongside all these activities there were up to 3000 tents for all the participants to sleep in. With this in mind, you wouldn’t expect to find an internet connection for webmaking, but the organizers have brought the event that started in 1993 into the 21st century with wifi coverage across the entire site. They were even kind enough to throttle this back for us so we could have a high speed hardline for the Maker Party.
Webmaking in a field
There are always concerns when running a large event that the tech will fail, but these are 100 fold when working in a field. Despite the dodgy wifi and poor connectivity in the morning, things finally got better in the afternoon and we moved from fighting a losing battle to making some amazing Popcorn videos.
The day started a little slowly, and behind schedule due to a lack of participants showing up, though this soon changed once the rather disorganized (to their own admission) scout leaders had gotten their scouts to the right place. This was a blessing in disguise though, and one that only became known once we tried to start remixing the web in the morning.
While we waited for the latecomers we had the scouts and guides that did know when and where things were going on design ‘woggles’ to be printed with the 3D printers that were brought in for the day. These were hugely popular and definitely helped draw attention to the day’s activities.
Getting to know the tools
Despite the connectivity issues in the morning, a few people did manage to make some Popcorn videos before we moved onto the storyboarding. To let the learners learn the tools they’d be using in the afternoon (with much more success) this was going to be (and for a few people was) a 30 minute remixing session, where learners took existing projects from webmaker.org and make them their own. A few of the more adventurous learners even made some fun projects from scratch!
After a short while fighting the on/off internet connection we moved quickly onto sticky note storyboarding in preparation for or main make of the day.
Sticky Note Storyboarding
If you’ve never heard of it you should try it out for your next Popcorn project. The idea is simple. Take a piece of paper, some sticky notes and a Sharpie:
- Place a collection of sticky notes on paper (much like in my example below).
- Draw key moments that you’d like in your Popcorn project on the sticky notes.
- Make any notes under the sticky notes.
- Remix by swapping the sticky notes out with others, or even with other people!
At the end of the day we wanted each participant to have something they could use to showoff their time at the jamboree, as well as to promote their troop. Thankfully by this point the internet connection had stabilized a little. We think that the other 6000+ Scouts/Guides had stopped checking Facebook on their phones and joined in the the afternoons activities.
What we learned
The learners not only learned how to remix the web, as well as to create web native video, but they also taught us, the mentors, so much more than we taught them.
When making in a field, make sure you have offline contingencies. We had a few backup plans for a poor internet connection, however they would have been less than optimal. Projects would have been lost and there would have been a serious lack of resources for the learners to use.
You’ll always find something that the tools don’t do, that the learners want to. This time round it was nothing that stopped them making and having fun, and all the problems the learners found had workarounds that we could use.
Keep energy levels up, even if you’re in a sauna. Despite the heat, the learners were making at their full potential just after the icebreakers. Leaving it too long between group activities, and allowing your own energy levels to drop, will very quickly reduce the energy levels, and productivity of the larger group. Lower energy levels = less fun.
A huge love bomb needs to go out to all the awesome mentors (including those that turned up to learn/make, and ended up sharing their newly gained skills with others) that helped out, and provided support to the learners. Another needs to go to Dorine and Luke from EPIK without whom this Maker Party wouldn’t have existed, or had connectivity. Finally a massive thank you to Toshiba for providing us with some state of the art laptops.
- Learn more about the Kent Scouts International Jamboree
- Visit the Maker Party website to find more great events.
- Make something on the web using Popcorn Maker or Thimble.
- Tag your work with #makerparty and share it on Twitter.