What makes a good booth at a high school career fair?
April 14, 2008 9:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm representing my college department at a large high school's career day, and I need some ideas!

This is the computer science department at the local junior college. We offer the usual range of beginning programming, web design and desktop publishing classes, plus game design, administrative assistant and medical coding programs.

What can I do to make our plain boring table a little bit more enticing to the average high schooler? We'll have a regular banquet-size table and we have a three-sided table-top display. We generally have stacks of handouts explaining the various programs and classes. We'd like to play up the game design program a little, but the other programs need to be represented too.

This is the first time I'm doing one of these solo, so any advice is welcome!
posted by SuperSquirrel to Education (8 answers total)
Can you let them try out one of the games a student has designed?
Show pictures of the process of developing a game (sketches of characters, etc).
High schoolers will probably be shy about asking questions, so prepare a summary of what it is you do to give to students who look interested but stare at you blankly when you offer to answer any questions.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 9:54 AM on April 14, 2008

I sometimes work at boat shows and a jar of candy usually gets lots of poeple into the booth.
posted by robinpME at 9:55 AM on April 14, 2008

Do you have anything to give away or raffle off? People love free stuff. Anything you can raffle off is a huge bonus for you because you can collect their contact info (email addresses at least) and then send them more info later to remind them how awesome you are.
posted by radioamy at 9:58 AM on April 14, 2008

candy. definitely candy. It helps.

Make sure there are bright colours and stuff to attract the stragglers, as well as the important interactive information for people who are actually intent to study computer science. Having a tv set up with an example of a game playing would be cool, if possible, or even a couple of laptops playing different games/web design examples (sort of in a power point format)

Doing it solo might be a challenge if there are a lot of people milling around. If no one is talking TO you, make sure to go up and contact them yourself, ask them if they have questions, the usual. If there are lots of people milling around, however, be polite about asking people to be fairly brief when asking questions and stuff. Talking to one person about for an hour is probably not the best way to get people interested in the school, but neither is restricting everyone to one question each.

Otherwise, just candy, candy, candy. And free stuff if you can get your hands on it, stuff like pens, pins, stickers, fridge magnets, etc.
posted by Planet F at 10:02 AM on April 14, 2008

Any possible way to take a couple of your current students with you? Preferably freshmen. The high school kids might better relate (and be able to talk with) someone that's closer to them in age and temperament.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:30 AM on April 14, 2008

Something interactive would be great. See if you could bring a laptop with demos of some of the different projects that your students have worked on. Letting people see what they could do is a lot better than just explaining what kinds of things are available.

I did a career day at a high school and I brought a demo of my surgical simulation program on a laptop and it was a big hit. The only problem I had was moving people off of it so everyone could try it out.
posted by demiurge at 10:34 AM on April 14, 2008

I've represented my department before, when I was a graduate student. At the very least a PowerPoint slideshow running on a loop with pictures and examples from the college are always helpful. The movement brings attention to your area. LCD projector if you have space, laptop if you don't. If a wireless link is possible, have another laptop open to the department website. I've found it really helpful when people ask questions to be able to quickly show them where to find more information on their own later on.

'Course at the time I had built the site in question for my department, so I knew where everything was, which made it pretty easy... if you aren't familiar with the site layout make sure you learn more about it before using it, as you don't want to look clueless about your own CS department's website.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:30 AM on April 14, 2008

I saw this at the CS Games competition: Cookie Tetris. You code up a simple, playable game of tetris, and every time they score a multiple of 1000 points, the player gets a cookie. Once they die, you give that player the number of cookies they've earned.Needless to say, you need to bake up a tray of cookies. The game we played gave you more points for speed than anything else, so you had to play FAST tetris.
posted by DrSkrud at 12:35 PM on April 14, 2008

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