[hackerspaces] Spark 181 – Mitch Altman says hackers could raise $10mil

Mitch Altman maltman23 at hotmail.com
Thu May 10 21:19:05 CEST 2012

> From: isdale at gmail.com 
> Date: Thu, 10 May 2012 08:47:32 -1000 
> To: discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org 
> Subject: Re: [hackerspaces] Spark 181 – Mitch Altman says hackers could 
> raise $10mil 
> Matt Joyce said ... 
> I know that nyc resistor pitched a grant proposal to the MacArthur 
> foundation probably in 2009 or so. We had floated an idea nearly 
> identical to the hacker scout badges that adafruit and phil torrone ( 
> of make ) have come up with as well. We did not get the grant. 
> Which to my mind is a pity. It would have been pretty great. 
> I really think that a hacker scouts style approach is the right way to 
> go about it. 
> If you want to have a real impact on a kids education and 
> opportunities the goal is to engage the parents as well as the kid. 
> It should be a shared experience. That's all there is to it. 
> -Matt 
> I like the Hacker Scouts idea. There is a group over at 
> SchoolFactory.org<http://SchoolFactory.org> that is working to organize 
> this ... 
> https://atrium.schoolfactory.org/makerscouts/ 
> One issue I have with the Adafruit approach is that while they provide 
> the badges, there is no associated 'requirements' for each (at least 
> not yet.) Each badge needs a sample activities list showing the types 
> of things that should be completed to achieve the badge. 
> As Mitch noted, the in-school space funding may be harder to get with 
> makerspace.com<http://makerspace.com> already rolling. 
> What about a flipped school approach? 
> I propose the hackerspace community collectively create an archive of 
> course materials for teaching various skills. This would include how-to 
> videos, presentation slides, teacher support material, lists of 
> materials, etc. Skills would be the classic hacker activities - 
> coding, soldering, metal bending, laser cutting, 3d printing, metal 
> foundry, crafting, locks etc. and also tie in more conventional school 
> skills -- eg showing how 3d printing can be used to illustrate 
> geometry, etc. The course materials archive would get peer review, and 
> require use of an open (Create Commons) license. Then schools, spaces, 
> fablabs, and other kid/adult organizations around the world could 
> access them online and use them locally. 
> On top of that we create an organization that solicits funds from 
> foundations, etc and collects up the $10mil+, which it in turn passes 
> on to courseware developers to support their activities. This 
> organization helps reduce the grant scramble that individual efforts 
> would need to do ... and collects them so MacArthur etc sees one well 
> done proposal rather than 20 lesser ones. 


I think you're on to something here, Jerry!  As you pointed out, getting grants is not easy (as MAKE found out, too).  But grantors like funding organizations and projects that have already received grants (unfortunate, but true).  If we can create a small program with grand vision and get it funded, then it is more likely to get more funding in the future.  The small program can be funded, in part by Kickstarter, as well as grant giving organizations (perhaps even the Awesome Foundation ("unofficial" grant-givers -- though they tend to give money to projects that will are make-or-break with the $1k they give).


To receive a merit badge for the hacker scouts, it would be way useful to have a list of "Suggested" activities to demonstrate proficiency in an area.  And if individuals or hackerspaces create online how-to's, and/or videos for helping teach, that would be a great resource for all.  This will also give documented results, which makes getting grant money easier, so we can do more.


Phil and Limor, of Adafruit, emailed me when I was in China, saying they'd love to help push the hacker scouts idea.  They have resources for helping make a worthwhile program pretty big.


There's also people at Mothership Hackermoms (a new hackerspace in Oakland for hacker moms!) who are involved with making hacker scouts a real, helpful program for kids.  I believe that The School Factory is also into this.


BTW, all of this may cost way less money than $10 million.




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