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Take Your Kids to SQL Saturday Day

I’ve been mostly away from twitter lately – so busy! – but I’m really glad I checked in to do a little bragging tonight. I just sent a simple tweet out “Taking my daughter to an upcoming SQL Saturday.. Will be her first time in this city and her first SQL Saturday!” What followed was an idea that I’ve heard discussed quite a lot at different SQL Server events lately – “wouldn’t it be fun to have a take your kids to a SQL event day?” The answer? Yes!

A New Hashtag

So I hate it when we come up with ideas that everyone likes and then life moves and the idea fizzles. I think it was at a SQL Saturday in Atlanta with a bunch of folks that I heard it first seriously discussed. I’ve heard it discussed at PASS events before and I’ve seen people bring their daughters or sons to SQL events before. So this isn’t a new idea. But I think the way that a swarm of people jumped on this idea of “take your kid day” tells me – it’s a good idea.. Or just a really popular bad idea. But either way we should give it a shot. So I thought we’ll just use #passKIT (Kids in technology) for now.. Change it if you like.. I’m just writing a post to get folks talking about it. This is just a quick “hey.. let’s talk about this as a larger group” post. So… Let’s talk about this..  We can do it here in the comments.. We can do it on a bunch of blogs.. On twitter.. Maybe SQLPASS will setup a DL.. But let’s poke holes in this idea and see if it can happen.

So a bunch of people started discussing this and are discussing this right now. I think it was Tom LaRock (Twitter/Blog) who first seized on my tweet with the “let’s do this for all kids!” spirit. If I added the others now, I’d spend all my time finding twitter handles and I’d still miss a bunch. Go look in twitter for around the time this post went live and you’ll see them. Maybe some of them will comment here also..

The Concept (loosely)

There isn’t any concept yet. It’s an idea that is developing. But basically – encourage our daughters.. encourage our sons… Let them see the other side of what we do all day (not just the phone call that interrupts the game, the other end of the laptop that comes out during family time to fix that issue at work) Let them see some of the fun..  Let them see the value of paying attention to their education. Show them that data can be fun. Let them watch mommy or daddy give a session in one of the normal sessions or tracks. We’d be planting seeds basically… None of us want to force our kids into our field, but we want our sons and daughters to have the opportunity to go this way if they choose. We want them to have the ability to take steps to do what they want to do and be what they want to be when they’re adults. This is one way to encourage them and show them what a path looks like.

What it isn’t or shouldn’t be –

It shouldn’t be a surprise attack at just any SQL Saturday anytime. It shouldn’t be a rules free babysitting club for young kids. It shouldn’t be a time to dumb down regular session content or have “regular” sessions interrupted by kids laughing, talking, crying and playing DS games. It shouldn’t even be a regular occurrence – if it should be one at all..

Some Ideas

Just some of the ideas that were floating around on twitter and in my head as we started talking about this spit out here.. We’ll see if this goes anywhere before developing any of these.. And if this is an absolutely horrible idea then it shall die the death a really horrible idea deserves 🙂

  • Some sessions/panels for the kids – Again this depends on the age of the kids. But sort of like a career day at school. Let the kids ask questions. Let some adults talk a bit about the decisions that they’ve made along the way. Talk about some of the education that was important to get to where they are today.
  • Some Fun Sessions For kids – I don’t know what this looks like. One idea I had was – send a survey to parents and a survey to kids ahead of the event. Try and encourage as many responses as you can.. Then during the session talk about the survey and go through the data.. Create a simple database for the data, load it, create some reports, create some data visualizations and bring the data to life with a tool like Power View.. Make the survey fun and funny and have fun with the results. Maybe we can see the difference from the adult and kid perspective of different questions… Maybe a session where someone can talk about the technology behind the scenes of things the different age groups can identify with.
  • Hands On – Not sure what, but some hands on technology for the kids.. Some Kinect data visualizations, some labs for older kids. Maybe play with some data that is from different verticals for the older teens/pre-teens. See the data and data tools behind cancer research, behind sports coaching, behind logistics, behind TV networks, in finance, etc.
I don’t know exactly what this looks like. But I see it as a way to maybe have a kids track at a SQL Saturday. A way to encourage speakers to bring their kids to the SQL Saturday and to the speaker event. A way for those attending to choose to come and get the SQL sessions they know and love at a SQL Saturday or take their kids to a session or two in the kids track – or both.
Again.. Quickly written post here… What do you think? If you look at my twitter timeline (mike_walsh) from 11/12 around 6:45PM EST you’ll see a lot of the other folks talking about this. Actually they are still talking about even.. Share your initial thoughts in the comments. Write a post of your own and link to it in the comments.. If this is a good idea and can be arranged, look for more information out on twitter for a SQL Saturday in 2013!

Mike Walsh
Article by Mike Walsh
Mike loves mentoring clients on the right Systems or High Availability architectures because he enjoys those lightbulb moments and loves watching the right design and setup come together for a client. He started Straight Path in 2010 when he decided that after over a decade working with SQL Server in various roles, it was time to try and take his experience, passion, and knowledge to help clients of all shapes and sizes. Mike is a husband, father to four great children, and a Christian. He’s a volunteer Firefighter and EMT in his small town in New Hampshire, and when he isn’t playing with his family, solving SQL Server issues, or talking shop, it seems like he has plenty to do with his family running a small farm in NH raising Beef Cattle, Chickens, Pigs, Sheep, Goats, Honeybees and who knows what other animals have been added!

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3 thoughts on “Take Your Kids to SQL Saturday Day”

  1. A few thoughts. First, to reiterate what I started to put on twitter, there may need to be a min. age limit so that kids can sit still for the length of a session. (Some adults can’t even do that, but I digress…) Having kid-focused sessions, especially if done simultaneously with regular sessions, would need more volunteers to chaperone. I’d definitely talk with people who have organized their company’s kids day at school. I finally took my oldest this year to my company’s and there was an army of volunteers needed to help run the activities – which were age grouped even. You might also want to ask presenters if they’d be comfortable having kids in their sessions, or warn them that it’s possible, in case they themselves would feel distracted – but not because the implication would be they should alter their content, except perhaps in the case of language/jokes they planned to use. I could see high school aged kids being a good target to bring along, maybe jr. high if they’re mature enough.

  2. I think this is a great idea that has been lightly kicked around at SQL Saturdays for a long time. I think this discussion will bring some great ideas to the table. The best is yet to come.

  3. I initially responded on twitter to this idea with a tongue-in-cheek “I go to PASS events as a way to get away from kids.” Yes, there was some truth behind that, but I wasn’t trying to say this was a bad idea. Unfortunately, some of the people who had recently brought their children to PASS events thought I was referring directly to them. 🙁

    I am a preschool teacher, mom of 2, and step mom to 3 more. I do a lot of volunteering for PASS, mostly as a way to challenge my brain in a way that doesn’t involve kids. The one time I tried to bring my kids along (as I was an organizer, and had no other options that morning), it was a nightmare. It increased my stress level by 1000%. Thank goodness that Ted Krueger (@onpnt) was kind enough to take my little guy under his wing, and entertain him until I could bring them to their dad. I did not want that to be the outcome of the day, nor do I wish that stress on anyone else.

    That said, I think this “bring your kid day” (on occasion) is a great idea. Many of the WIT Panel discussions I have been to end up being a “how can we get our kids involved in technology?” conversation. I have also seen many speakers/organizers bring their teenage children to SQL Saturdays as helpers. Many times, the teenagers end up very interested in what’s going on, and may sit in on a session or two as well. I think exposing kids to a variety of possibilities for their future is a great thing.

    I do think people need to be aware of the maturity level of their children before bringing them. I think as long as the organizers have clear expectations laid out, it could be very successful. I love the idea of having some sort of hands on activities and/or showing them different kinds of data from things that could pertain to them… I love the idea behind the post, and I think it could be quite successful. The benefits could be huge to both the children/teens and the parents!


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