On January 19th, Hive NYC community members braved a frigid evening to join us at NYU’s MAGNET center for a community meet-up with Young Innovators Squad. Hive NYC and Global Kids collaborated to organize this event, but credit really goes to the five youth presenters—Austin, Brian, Kareem, Lowis, Mamadou, and Surendra. Their presentation began by explaining what their tech community is all about.
[PART 1] Young Innovators Squad Presentation
The Young Hackers a.k.a Young Innovators Squad (YIS) aims to bring together high school and college students from diverse backgrounds who are interested and experienced in technology. Their membership is made up of youth who participate in Hive NYC community programs, and their community can be thought of as a youth-led counterpart to Hive NYC itself. YIS engages minority youth, and those new to tech, through hackathons and workshops. As YIS member Austin put it:
“We thought it was a good idea to sort of focus on only beginners and have them come and learn how cool tech really is.”
[Part 2] Q&A Session
When it was time for questions, one thing was clear—how impressed attendees were by the accomplishments of these young people. Here is a recap of the Q&A:
Q. How do YIS members juggle their busy schedules?
A. They set deadlines and keep ongoing communication with other members. When members all share the same goal, it’s easy to to keep it light and fun and still get things done.
Q. How can YIS get more girls involved in their community?
A. They need to move quickly on opportunities to actively recruit and encourage girls to join. In the future, they’d like to form partnerships with local organizations for girls.
Q. How does YIS choose new community members?
A. They find people who are new to tech by holding workshops in community centers in the Bronx and Harlem; a lot of people stay for their workshops because they happen to already be there. The most important attribute of new members is enthusiasm.
Q. What other challenges have the found?
A. Engagement isn’t easy at first. Young people have a lot of interests and responsibilities competing for their time. But it takes less commitment than people might think; the trick is to just get started!
[Part 3]: Makey Makey Activity
After a quick pizza break for pizza, everyone moved to the MAGNET game lab, an appropriate place for the evening’s activity—classic video games with a DIY twist!
The Squad began the activity by demonstrating basic circuitry and hardware using a DIY tool called Makey Makey. After the demo everyone broke into groups and got 20 minutes to play with the tool and invent a new way to use it. After 20 minutes, each group presented what they created and how they did it.
One of the groups built a game controller out of quarters and wires. Another group made a controller out of playdough and tinfoil. Both groups used their new controllers to play online games like Tetris and Space is Key. This activity was a great example of fun and approachable introductions into electronics and coding.
[Part 4]: Get Involved!
All in all, the Young Innovators Squad presentation was an important platform for sharing their experience in youth engagement. Attendees left feeling inspired by the drive and creativity of a new generation of makers and doers.
If you’re feeling inspired too, you can help Young Innovators Squad along on their mission! Consider sponsoring one of their meet-up by providing a space, food, a workshop, or swag.
For more information and to get in touch, visit YoungInnovators.nyc. The Squad would love to hear from you!