Teach kids about open source on Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day | Opensource.com

Teach kids about open source on Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Posted 25 Apr 2012 by 

Ruth Suehle (Red Hat)
(4 votes)
Teach kids about open source on Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day
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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.




Great article Ruth thanks very much. We are using open source in our school district in 15 schools (elementary, middle and secondary) on over 2200 workstations. Our base system is Ubuntu with diskless clients for the workstations. It's green (75% energy savings), cost effective and highly manageable. We use commercial software where necessary for special education and specialized programs. Altogether we have a ration of about 6:1 Ubuntu/Windows workstations. It's hybrid technology which gives us the best of both worlds.


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Very nice article Ruth, its great to see kids having such good fun when at work.

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Ruth Suehle leads community marketing for Red Hat's Open Source and Standards team, including the Fedora Project and is the moderator of the Life channel here on opensource.com. She's co-author of Raspberry Pi Hacks