Workplace presentation to co-worker's kids
April 25, 2006 7:06 PM   Subscribe

Take your kids to workfilter, I'm a victim of the do something well and you're doing it for the rest of your time at the job. Help me with a workplace presentation to kids. (More inside)

I have no kids, but I'm one of the few people working in my IT department who can stand up in front of kids and speak. Last year's take your kids to work day involved me presenting cool, new, and interesting sites on the internet. It went over too well and they're expecting a repeat performance.

I'll post my results, but I need a fun and educational topic capable of keeping an audience aged 10-16 interested for a brief spell. I'm leaning towards the 1,001 free/oss alternatives to to traditional software. Obviously it must be in some fashion technology related.
posted by cmfletcher to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
How about cool stuff on wikipedia or google hacks?
posted by Alison at 7:22 PM on April 25, 2006

Best answer: Show them how surfing leaves a trail of information. Some kids may not be aware that their searches, website visits and what-not are being tracked. Let them see how this affects the ads they see online. I wouldn't go all Big Brother or doom and gloom, but you might be able to help them understand that what they do is being recorded. I would balance this with something that shows how this can also be helpful or perhaps go into other benefits of the technology.
posted by acoutu at 8:05 PM on April 25, 2006

Info on adware/spyware. Kids like anything to do with spies.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:11 PM on April 25, 2006

I like acoutu's suggestion.

How about the business side of the pornography industry?

A more age-appropriate suggestion - how "politically" interested is the target audience? Can you simulate being behind the "great firewall" and how that might impact the children (say, for example, if the US started mass-censoring select parts of the web)?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:39 PM on April 25, 2006

I'm not sure if there's a gentle way to do this, but how about giving them some information on how to avoid online sexual predators?
posted by deadmessenger at 8:39 PM on April 25, 2006

Find out their names and try to mine MySpace and google for information on them. Or teach them about sending things over networks by setting up instant messenger on a couple machines and sniffing packets. Kids love spying on people and they'll learn valuable lessons on what is available through the internet.
posted by gaelenh at 8:46 PM on April 25, 2006

Oy. "Great firewall", sexual predators, open source, and the porn industry? I'm bored/uncomfortable already.

OK, so cool freeware is always big with kids, but lean more towards Yahoo Widgets and away from Open Office. I'm having some fun with Inkscape lately, and that may particularly appeal to budding artists. My little nephews get a kick out of Google Earth.

Maybe a "Podcasts 101" - both subscribing to and creating your own, if you know anything about that scene (I don't really, so I have little concrete advice. That may actually be a good tie-in to your oss/freeware idea -- "Create Your Own Podcast for Free".
posted by Rock Steady at 8:50 PM on April 25, 2006

I'm 16 and I would be interested in the freeware alternatives idea. Show them what's free online. Present it as an alternative to the mainstream/rebellion against a microsoft monopoly and I imagine they'll be somewhat interested. Perhaps show them second life and other free game type things?

Of course, I'm an internet nerd so I have no idea if this will appeal to your audience.
posted by MadamM at 8:58 PM on April 25, 2006

Freeware might be cool, but consider whether you're presenting something that your employer may not support. If it's all free, where exactly will you take your kids to work next year? :)
posted by acoutu at 9:30 PM on April 25, 2006

Easter Eggs in their favorite games

Programming easy games (I saved this link a while ago, but have not checked into the book myself yet.)

Maybe take apart a computer (or put one together) so they can see what the guts of one looks like?

Why can't you do the cool, new, and interesting sites on the internet spiel again? Even if you get many of the same kids as last year, their ideas (and yours) on what's cool, new, and interesting will have changed in a year.

Possibly a goofy idea that involves more work than you get paid for, but: My 10-year-old would love nothing better than to spy on people's email. Maybe you could set up some kind of game with willing co-workers. Have them send emails back and forth that you and the kids spy on, that reveal clues to some mystery to be solved by the end of the day.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:38 PM on April 25, 2006

You could use the tracert function in unix to show the path that their surfing takes.
posted by vidarling at 9:53 PM on April 25, 2006

howstuffworks rules! You really want to win? Show them how a Machine Gun works and they will be eating out of your hand. (at least the boys and the cool girls...)

Also, Engadget and Gizmodo are always winners.

i suppose you could also show them Penny-Arcade, but that may not be appropriate.
posted by quin at 10:33 PM on April 25, 2006

Best answer: I like the network sniffing idea. Get two volunteers to engage in a chat on MSN and then use something like etheral (spelling?) to spy on their conversation. You can also use some visual trace tools etc to show how packets work their way over the internet. Alternatively, I like the idea of spying on co-workers e-mails to find (pre-defined) clues!

This goes some way towards teaching them how unsafe information is on the internet (and maybe helps a little with the sexual predators angle). Also, for the would-be hackers in the audience, they'll be enthralled because it seems like a how-to (oh, how little they know)! :)

I also like the idea of talking apart a computer and showing them the insides. I teach IT at a university-level and you'd be surprised how many *uni* IT students haven't seen the inside of a PC. When I show them, it is always an attentive class!
posted by ranglin at 11:39 PM on April 25, 2006

I wouldn't go all Big Brother or doom and gloom, but you might be able to help them understand that what they do is being recorded.

Yes, yes, yes.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:54 AM on April 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm imagining the kids acting out how the internet works.

Give them IP packets in little colourful envelopes and have them deliver them. One kid can be searching for something, write his request on a bit of paper, another kid can Google and look the answer up in a dictionary, write it on a bit of paper and send it back?

Pick a smartass kid to be a malfunctioning router and refuse the packets, then you'll have to bounce them around to another node. Just a random thought.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:01 AM on April 26, 2006

Response by poster: Well it went very well. I did go with the OSS alternatives and left them with a page of links to go exploring for further information. I did use inkscape and gimp as well as celestia, google earth, and a few others.

I highlighted the information trail ideas because a coworker had used that and it went well. Thank you for the help and suggestions and I'm sure I'll ask again next year.
posted by cmfletcher at 8:51 AM on April 28, 2006

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