As a result of attending the Financial Times Hackday through Croydon TechCity, Lives Not Knives was offered an opportunity to have a community stand at the Digital Summer Camp this year, held at the Hackney Community College.
It was early in the morning on Friday – surprisingly chilly considering the weather we have had over the summer. After loading the car we began the drive towards Hackney. Our journey went very smoothly along the way and we arrived, parked and unloaded. We began the walk towards the college. Arriving at the college, we found that while there is a number of means by which one would normally enter, all but one had been closed. Therefore, we proceeded to continue around the outside of the college until we found a more accessible point.
Our stand was set up and, while ensuring our stand had someone at all times, members of the LNK team set about exploring what was on offer at the event.
There was an awful lot on offer with something new and innovative around every corner. Popular attractions included the BlackBerry van where BlackBerry staff members were demonstrating the new Z10 phone, the Code Club table where a piano had been coded using banana keys, and a stand selling some rather delicious Oreo balls coated in white chocolate. Among the list of universities and colleges giving talks to the young people about courses on offer were Royal Holloway, University of London; Queen Mary, University of London; and Hackney Community College.
Dozens of tech start-ups were exhibiting at the event (too many to list!) but notable mentions include Kano – a company that sells Raspberry Pi kits to help anyone get started with a Raspberry Pi; Technology Will Save Us (TWSU) – a start-up selling DIY kits with everything needed to create all sorts of devices from speakers to solar-powered plant thirst detectors; SolderSplashLabs – creating development and breakout boards; and Bare Conductive – makers of electrically conductive paints, used for cards, t-shirts and much more!
Having the start-ups at this event was a fantastic opportunity both for the start-ups to network and for them to tell their stories from the conception of an idea to working out how to put it into practice, inspiring and guiding a generation of young minds.
An excellent method of ensuring that the visiting children from schools would visit each area at the Digital Summer Camp was employed: collectible stickers. Each child was provided with a lanyard upon entry to the event. The lanyard had spaces on which the children would place a sticker from each zone; stickers would be collected from stands located in the different areas. This added a level of competition to ensure that all the young people visited every area of the event.
I feel that this was an excellent event from which Croydon can learn a lot. The Digital Summer Camp highlighted that there are plenty of courses and avenues into the digital future for young people and illustrated that opportunities for start-ups have increased greatly as the capabilities of small digital products have grown. An event like this would be beneficial in Croydon to open the eyes of many of the young people of Croydon to the ever increasing digital world.