Kids on Computers and Unleash Kids at LinuxCon North America!

Kids on Computers is a non-profit organization made up of volunteers — adults and kids. Founded in 2009, KOC sets up computer labs in locations worldwide, providing access to educational content which they otherwise would not be able to access. The computers have FOSS installed on them. Unleash Kids helps volunteer groups who work with kids by providing Internet in a Box (IIAB) community kits. This brings much of the online-educational content (such as offline Wikipedia, Khan academy, e-books and world-wide maps) to children in areas where there is no access to the internet.

Earlier this year, Linux Foundation partnered with Kids on Computers which allowed KOC to have a booth at this year’s LinuxCon North America, as well as hold a workshop for children ages 7-15 on Kids Day. This was KOC’s first conference-based workshop. The kids worked on HP EliteBook laptops which were donated by the Linux Foundation, as well as 2 other laptops which KOC had from previous donations. In total, we had 15 computers for 19 children, so some had to pair up with a sibling or a buddy. We were that popular! The kids did their first Linux install by installing Ubermix from a flash drive. We had 20 USB flash drives, so each child was able to take one home!

Once the system was installed, an introduction to Scratch programming took place for beginners, and an activity where they wrote a program to write their own name, for those who already had some exposure to Scratch.

Tim Moody of Unleash Kids demonstrated how networking worked using an Intel NUC with IIAB. The kids connected to the IIAB access point, accessed content and then used the local network to ping each other, SSH into each other’s machines and transfer files using SCP.

Additionally, in order to get ready for the afternoon workshop run by a local group called MakerKids, the children had to install the Arduino IDE (using Synaptic) and then download Ardublock.

Graham Steele of MakerKids did an amazing job teaching about Arduino, LED’s, buzzers, batteries and everything Arduino! You could feel the excitement and positive energy in the room as lights lit up and buzzers buzzed!

Many thanks to Linux Foundation, as the day would not have happened without them. A personal thank-you to Stormy Peters for connecting me with KOC! I cannot thank you enough. It was a great experience meeting and working with Avni Khatri, Adam Holt, Gustavo Silva, and Tim Moody! An incredible team through and through. A big thank-you to Miriam for allowing the team to hack at the rooftop pool overlooking mid-town, and opening up your home to us. Also, I would like to thank Ethan (7) and Chase (6) for volunteering to beta test our workshop by performing an Ubermix install and allowing us to introduce them to Tux and Scratch the night before the Kids Day workshop! They have been running Ubermix ever since! I would also like to thank Tim and Doina for hosting a lovely dinner party for the group in their home. Awesome food, company and chats.

The work of KOC is made possible entirely by volunteer effort and donations. We also have KOC stickers available here.


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