Today is the 20th anniversary of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day in the US--an excellent opportunity to introduce kids to the concepts of open source (even if you don't have any of your own).
If you work at an open source company
Whether it's software or a company that otherwise embodies openness, you have it easy. When the kids come to your office--whether they're yours or your coworkers'--help show them what your company does. Explain how you contribute. Tell them why your company chooses openness over competitors who do not. Explain the value of open source principles.
If you don't work at an open source company
You still have a chance to spread openness into younger minds--and maybe into your company while you're at it. Try to think of the ways that your company does embrace open principles. Exceptionally collaborative teams? Flat management and a meritocracy? Rapid prototyping of ideas? (And in that exercise, you'll find places to target for improvement.)
Beyond that, share what you do outside of the office. It's important for kids (and adults!) to understand that a career isn't necessarily all you do. Talk about your participation in open source software projects. Or about how you work with your city's open government plan. Or what you do at the local hackerspace. If you can, connect it to what you do at work.
Regardless of where you work
If kids show up in your office today, volunteer to talk to them. Kids are naturally tuned to principles like sharing and collaboration. From sharing toys on the playground to group science projects, openness thrives in the young and in much of their schoolwork. Help them see how that can and should last into their professional lives.
And if you have enough time with them, introduce them to some open source software for kids. Feel free to print this list (I left the URLs visible) or copy and paste it into an email that you can send to them or their parents. Many of them run on Windows or Mac in addition to Linux.
- Tux Paint: A drawing/painting program for kids (http://tuxpaint.org/)
- Other art programs: Older kids will be ready for Gimp (analogous to Photoshop: http://www.gimp.org/) or Inkscape (analogous to Illustrator: http://inkscape.org/)
- Vim Adventures: Learn vim's keyboard shortcuts in a game (http://vim-adventures.com/)
- Frets on Fire: For the Guitar Hero lovers (http://fretsonfire.sourceforge.net/)
- Other open source games: Here's a great list (http://sourceforge.net/blog/games-for-the-holidays/)
- Scratch: A kid-friendly introduction to programming (http://scratch.mit.edu/)
- Kdenlive: Older kids may be interested in our introduction to this video editing software (https://opensource.com/life/11/11/introduction-kdenlive)
- Celestia: A space simulator (http://www.shatters.net/celestia/)
- KDEdu: A set of apps for older kids, mostly in math and science (http://edu.kde.org)