On Saturday, June 12, several OLPC supporters trekked out to New York City’s Governor’s Island for this month’s New York meet-up. OLPC Volunteer Hannah Stern talks about the day’s events:
This past weekend, One Laptop per Child’s New York group spent the day at the Figment Arts and Creativity Festival on Governor’s Island, right off the southern tip of Manhattan. Throughout the day, festival goers had the chance to show off their creative sides on the XOs, whether through producing their own digital art or music.
The Festival was my first OLPC event and I didn’t know what to expect. Based on what I knew about OLPC advocates, I had pictured a conference room full of IT managers talking tech, writing code, and developing new open source applications.
However, our audience was nothing like what I had envisioned. I was pleasantly surprised to find our setup to be more like a neighborhood block party. Lots of people and families passed by, asking questions about the XO and stopping to play with the devices.
This was my first time getting some hands-on experience with the XO in its many forms (several of the volunteers brought their own XO models from the past several years). After a few quick pointers, I found the operating system and program functions fairly intuitive and had a great time trying it out.
As much as I enjoyed playing with the XO, I had an even better time watching other people use it. There’s no question that my favorite part of the day was watching the adults and kids each take their turn trying to open the laptops.
After about a minute of fumbling, the adults would look at us, clearly frustrated, and ask “I don’t know, can you just show me.” The kids on the other hand caught on right away, looking for moving parts and typically prying open the devices in less time than the adults.
While I had always thought that the primary purpose of the XOs is to teach kids to use the Internet or to type faster, this simple demonstration proved otherwise. It showed just how the XO is built to stimulate the creative and reason areas of a child’s brain. It’s about teaching them to think logically but creatively; its’ about teaching them how to get the most out of the tools available to them.