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February 29, 2012 / Ben Simon

“Kitchen Table” Summer campaign

This summer, we want to launch a learning/making campaign, targeted at kids/teens/youth to bring them into our programs in a low-bar way. Mark has been calling it the “kitchen table” campaign for short — the idea being of 3 kids and a parent around the kitchen table — and we’re starting to put some meat on the bones.

We’re having an “event sprint” this week, and, yesterday morning, we had a great session to start really planning what this could look like. Leaving branding and timeline aside, we concentrated on:

  • What would the actual events look like
  • Why would potential particicpants want to actually do so
  • How do we report back out of the events/day
  • What’s the followup/What do the next events look like?
  • What are some actual user stories, and are they taken care of in our framework?

So, here’s what we’re thinking! Really eager to get feedback and other thoughts — this is the first thing like this that we’re trying, so we really want to get it right 🙂

The Actual Events:

To start with, we want to organize all of these around a single day of action — essentially “youth of the world making cool shit on [DAY TBD].” This will allow us to plant a flag to bring people in and provide a specific moment to organize around. There would be followup and strong pushes into more than one event, but organizing around a kickoff/launch day will help make this as big as possible.

Beyond that, we want to concentrate on remixing — the idea that the best way to get kids interested is to leverage something they’re already passionate about (baseball, lady gaga, whatever), and let them make something awesome based on it.

So whether it’s a parent with their daughter and 2 of her friends, or a 15-year-old geek who wants to get a few of her friends on board, this would lead to cool stuff being produced in a single day, which will (hopefully!) inspire learners to continue pushing forward.

In terms of the actual learning curriculum…that’s still a bit tbd. There are some great projects and tools on our end already in existence or planned for the next few months, and we’d also want to make sure that folks feel free to plug in some of the other great offerings out there.

Why would participants participate?:

This is a pretty important question to make sure we’ve answered very solidly — we need to weave it into everything we put out as part of this effort. Luckily, we’ve got some ideas.

From the perspective of a parent, it’s something for you to do with your kids that’s both fun and educational — in the process of making something awesome, they’ll start to learn webmaking!

And for the kid participating (or leading a group of friends), you’ll be:

  • Making something awesome to share, remix, and remake
  • A part of something much bigger than yourself; with many events happening around the world, you’ll be able to see what others are producing, at the same time, so you can be building on and hacking what others are doing while they do the same to what you make
  • Earning badges for participating/teaching

Report back:

Telling the story of all these events — before, during, and after — will be crucial for keeping the excitement, making, and learning going after. At a minimum, we’ll want to make sure we put together galleries where people can share what they make and remix what others have done.

We’ll want to encourage sharing on social networks — hashtag for the day on twitter, etc. — and should come up with ways to aggregate that content.

And, hopefully, we’ll be able to get some great press coverage to showcase what’s happening.

What’s the followup/What comes next?

There’s a real tension between the desire to get as many people in the door as possible versus the desire to make sure that participants keep on making and learning after the day — if all they do is get a taste without going further, we won’t be succeeding.

But the answer isn’t either/or. We can welcome people to one event at a time — we want them to come and have fun, because that’s what’ll make future events attractive — while consistently pushing the idea that you aren’t finished if you just do one thing.

We can incentivize future learning/events through badges and tangible gains from continuing on, and, most importantly, we can make sure people want to come back by making sure the events are *fun*.The specific asks/phrasing obviously remain tbd, but we’re definitely aware of and actively want to work through the tension in both goals.

User stories:

So, we’ve come up with three different sets of user stories for both learners and instructors (participants & hosts). I think there’s something here for each of them…is there? The biggest hole I see is for our instructor “Rose” who needs to do some learning herself before she could really instruct…but that just means we need a solid “train the trainers” to happen beforehand.


  • A father, Mark; 42 yo; self-proclaimed techie; 2 kids; wants kids to learn to hack; has passion around Open Web
  • Omar; 15 yo; a geek, who tweets and is on  FB; belongs to a youth org; has some understanding of html & css
  • Rose; 60 yo; retired; on social networks & computer literate; has played with wyswygs; has kids & grandkids


  • Jackson; 14 yo; home-schooled; likes video-making; zero knowledge of code; close to parents; reads lots of fiction
  • Mary; 13 yo; goes to sleep-away camp; plays soccer; knows no code
  • Zainab; 15 yo; likes computers, is on FB/Twitter; loves fashion; doesn’t code but loves making her mark on the web; has summer internship


So there are a lot of ducks to get in a row before this can actually happen — and the timeline needs to work back from there. Here’s the task list  see ahead. What’s missing?

  • Curriculum development
  • Partner development (orgs who’d want to join us)
  • Platform for people to create and promote their events <–link to my post
  • Easy guide for how to hold a successful event
  • Branding for the day/summer
  • Gallery for people to share what they’ve made
  • Badges for the day/summer
  • Followup event development
  • More to come…

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