In August, my family had the opportunity to attend an unique conference for a second time called THAT Conference. Now with a name like THAT Conference it can leave people wondering what in the world is happening at this conference. Well simply put, it is a professional tech conference, where the sharing and discussion of ideas is encouraged. Their tagline is – Summer Camp for Geeks. Though since its start five years ago, THAT Conference has gone beyond just inspiring the geeks of today, it invites attendees’ families and offers sessions to inspire the geeks of tomorrow.
Over the four day conference, workshop sessions are offered to introduce and expand on areas of interest for young geeklings. Some of the sessions are designed and led by adults, but one of the unique aspects of these sessions is that many are also run by youth under the age of 18. Kids teaching kids. It is amazing to watch. These geeklings are being immersed in STEM in a way that may not be available to them during the school year. The fact that these children from K4 to high school can be with others that share their geeky interests is phenomenal.
This year my geeklings had the opportunity to attend sessions that taught them the basics of coding a simple video game, how to begin creating a webpage, how to design electrical circuits with play-doh and LEDs, ways to create an upcycled robot, and other STEM-themed sessions. My 11 year-old daughter was already a tech geek, but this year’s conference brought out the tech side in my 6 year-old son. He absolutely loved the Hour of Coding with BB-8 session. The fact that he constructed his own Star Wars game on his tablet put him on cloud 9.
Watching my children engrossed in what they were designing and building made my heart swell. Parents live for moments like this. They are already telling their dad that he needs to convince his work to let him go back next year.
With the option for attendees to include their families, THAT Conference has a special niche in the conference market. The number of families attending this year grew significantly. Word is out on how fantastic this conference is. I really hope that we do it get to attend in 2017 because I’m excited to see the next level THAT Conference volunteers take this event to.