A few months ago, I got invited to a festival in Greenwich called the Mozilla Festival, or MozFest. I was awarded a stipend, so I was able to attend with free accommodation and travel, as well as a facilitator ticket. I decided to run a workshop on Sonic Pi, one of my favourite programming environments, on which you can code music, then edit it while it’s playing, using live loops. MozFest ran between the 29th and 30th of October, with a training day and science fair on the 28th for all the facilitators.
I travelled down to London Euston on the train on the Thursday, the day before facilitator training, with my dad. After we arrived, we headed straight to our hotel, the Hilton London Tower Bridge, where overall we had a lovely stay. When we were used to our surroundings, as I had never been to London before, we went on a walk to the Tower Bridge. So far, I loved London.
The next day, we woke up early to get to the venue, Ravensbourne College, as soon as possible, for the facilitator training. The room was ripe with excitement and apprehension, as people spoke happily about their journey down, and their planned workshops and sessions. I met the Youth Zone space wranglers, Andrew and Dorine, who quickly told me the basic idea for the morning. We listened to a talk on the ideas and rules behind MozFest, as well as the safety procedures and schedule. I had one workshop on Saturday, as well as one on Sunday. After the talk, all of the Youth Zone facilitators and helpers headed straight to the Youth Zone, on the second floor. A huge list was compiled of all the equipment that was kindly lent to us for our workshops, and then everything was unpacked and set up. During all of this, I made good friends with a lovely girl called Aoibheann, who was also running a workshop on Sunday. It all flew by so fast that soon it was time for the science fair. There were lots of exhibits, each one more amazing than the last. There was virtual reality, gif creating, and demonstrations of concept ideas and new products. By the time it had finished, I was really ready for bed. The day had tired me out so much, and we had to get up at 8am the next day to ensure that everything was ready for the first workshop started.
On the Saturday, I had sleep and tiredness edging my eyes, but I was so excited that I woke up as soon as my alarm went off. After eating a delicious breakfast at our hotel, we caught the tube from our hotel to North Greenwich, then signed into MozFest as facilitators. Attendees wouldn’t be arriving for another two hours yet, so there was more time to get to know other Youth Zone facilitators while we were checking everything was set up. Aoibheann and I already got along well, and began to talk about our workshops, as we were down on the schedule to help each other out. Aoibheann’s workshop sounded brilliant, and we explained to each other the running plan of our sessions. By the time MozFest was in full swing, we nearly knew each other’s workshop by heart.
When 3.00 rolled around, it was time for me to start getting ready for my workshop. I had loads of helpers, all of whom I am very grateful for. When people started arriving, I was extremely excited. Many more people than I expected turned up, and by the time it had started, most of the seats were taken up. Eager faces watched my every move, and I was so happy that it was going well. I would like to thank everyone who attended, because of how well you participated, and the feedback you gave me.
On Saturday evening, there was a pizza party for all of the Youth Zone facilitators, which was a great way to relax after the stress of the first day of MozFest, even though it all went well. Also it gave us a chance to get to know some of the other facilitators, who we wouldn’t have got a chance to meet otherwise.
On Sunday, everything was a bit calmer, now that the first day had gone, yet I had another workshop, and was set to help with two others. One was Joshua’s (@all_about_code) EduBlocks Minecraft Hackoween. The other was Aoibheann’s (@FarmSafety4Kid) Scratching Maths with Turtle workshop. Unfortunately I could not attend all of the EduBlocks workshop, as I helped sort out some difficulties at another workshop, but from everyone’s feedback, I know that it was extremely good. However, I did attend Aoibheann’s workshop, which went really well. The idea was to draw shapes using Scratch, and it was brilliant how well all the participants got involved, and built some amazing pictures. Well done Aoibheann and Joshua!
My second workshop also went to plan, and everyone also participated extremely well. The concept of the two workshops was for everyone to learn the basics of Sonic Pi and make their own spooky music, then upload it to a OneDrive file, so at home I could combine them into one big piece of music called the ‘MozFest Spooktacular Symphony’. I have edited them all together, and it sounds brilliant. Well done to everyone who contributed!
Overall, I had an amazing time at MozFest, and I would like to thank everyone who made it happen, and the people who had me. Big shout-outs are due to Andrew (@gbaman1), Dorine (@DorineFlies), Aoibheann (@FarmSafety4Kid), Josh (@all_about_code), Carrie-Anne (@MissPhilbin), Jonic (@Jonic), Andy (@SouthendTech), Iseult (@IseultMangan), Cerys (Rpi_stuff), Oliver (@oliverquinlan), Rik (@CodeClubRik), Cat (@CatLamin), and anyone else who helped out or participated in my workshop. Thank you for making MozFest as wonderful as it was!