A little over a week ago, Glenn Roberts (@glennrob), Ben Janecke (@BenJanecke), and Steve Barnett (@maxbarners) went through to the Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock to run a mini-RailsBridge for a class full of keen kids of a range of ages (and a few adults too!).

Huge thanks for Baratang Miya (@baratangmiya) of GirlHype for organising! :D

It was a bit different to our regular events: there was no InstallFest because the kids only had the Saturday free, and we would be using the PCs in the Barn’s computer lab. Us teachers went through on the Friday afternoon and put the usual bunch of software on to all the computers so that the kids could come in on Saturday and be mostly set up. At least, that was the plan!

In which things go a bit wrong

We usually run RailsBridges with people bringing their own laptops. This is part of the plan: we want our attendees to be able to continue developing their Rails skills after the workshop if they want to. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make sure they have all the software and tools that they need at hand. For this workshop, most of our attendees didn’t have their own computer, so using the Barn’s made sense.

However, we ran into some problems: many of the machines had a lot of spyware. This interfered with the final stages of the RailsBridge set up, with using a browser to view the docs, and with viewing the results of the work. Once we spotted that this was a recurring problem across all of the machines, we got anti-virus software running on every machine. On some of the machines this was quick, but on some it was still running an hour later. This meant we did some impromptu machine switching, seat-shuffling, and sharing of computers. That also led to complication with mixing up git and heroku accounts, but at least that was resolved more easily!

The delay meant two big changes. The first was that we concentrated on finishing the InstallFest by the end of the day, and using that as a teaching tool, rather than trying to rush through it and the Intro course. The second was that we had no time for any kind of retrospective / feedback session. This is a shame because we love chances to make improvements to ourselves and to the course.

In which things get better

On a happier note, once we got going after the anti-virus-ing, the attendees picked up a lot of speed. Once they got stuck into the Ruby exercises, especially, lots of faces of faces were lighting up with the “Oh, that’s cool!” look that we see so often at a RailsBridge events. That was very happy-making.

We didn’t end up getting all the way through the Intro to Rails course, but we did spend a lot of time chatting with the students about the bits they were on, what each thing meant, and encouraging them to keep playing with code after the workshop.

A sticky situation

Stickers were again an important part of the day. This event’s stickers had two Themes: Pirates and Animals on Bikes. Just so you know.

In which we are getting ready again

Our next “regular” RailsBridge, for grown-ups, is happening at the end of the month. RSVP on meetup.com if you’d like to come along. Hope to see you there!